Stephanie Wilcox

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Employment law and the Agri sector – what can you expect?

Agriculture and rural business / 21 March 2018

We are expecting the following changes in employment law over the next 12 months

30 March 2018: Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Large private and voluntary sector employers must publish their first gender pay gap reports by 4 April 2018, with large public sector employers required to publish theirs by 30 March 2018.  A number of employers have already published their reports and these are now available to view via the government’s website.

1 April 2018: National Minimum Wage and Living Wage

The National Minimum Wage will increase as follows:

  • Under 18’s from £4.05 to £4.20 per hour;
  • 18-20 from £5.60 to £5.90 per hour; and
  • 21-24 from £7.05 to £7.38 per hour.

The National Living Wage (for those aged 25 or over) will increase from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour.
The Agricultural Wage is still applicable to those who have a contractual right to it, rates can be found on the Government website.

25 May 2018: EU General Data Protection Regulation

The new rules on data protection will apply to all employers from 25 May 2018.  Whilst a number of concepts from our current data protection law remain in place, the changes bring with them significant new requirements on employers including new rules relating to consent, transparency, privacy notices and subject access rights.

Employment Status and the Gig Economy

A large number of “seasonal” or “casual” workers are engaged within the agricultural sector each year.  However, employment status is a complex area of law and we await the Supreme Court’s decision in Pimlico Plumbers v Smith, as well as further case law in this area, including the Court of Appeal decision in the high-profile Uber case.  The outcome of these decisions could result additional employment rights for those who have historically been considered to be workers or self-employed contractors.

Mental Health at Work

Agriculture can be a stressful business, such stresses can be caused by financial pressures resulting from market fluctuations, livestock disease or poor harvests and, more recently, by the uncertainty surrounding farm subsidies. Mental health will remain a hot topic in 2018 following the publication of key reports during 2017, including “Thriving at Work:  The Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers” (available to view here).

Protection for Pregnant Workers

We await with interest the ECJ’s decision in Porras Guisado v Bankia SA and others.  The Advocate General has already given her opinion in this case that pregnant workers are protected from dismissal even before their employer has been informed of the pregnancy.  Will the ECJ agree?

Holiday Pay

Following the ECJ’s recent reference – confirming that workers are entitled to be paid on termination for any periods of annual leave that have accrued during employment where they have been discouraged from taking that leave because it would have been unpaid – the Sash Windows case will now be heard by the Court of Appeal.  The decision will have significant implications for those whose status has been misclassified as self-employed rather than the worker, and those businesses that engage them.  Our recent employmentlaw@work on this case can be viewed here.

Sex Discrimination and Shared Parental Pay

The EAT heard the appeal in Capita Customer Management v Ali in December 2017 and we eagerly await the judgment.  Previously, an employment tribunal had ruled that a male employee was subjected to sex discrimination when his employer refused to allow him any period of shared parental leave at full pay (when a woman on maternity leave would have received full pay for a set period).


Given the length and complexity of the negotiations between the UK and the EU, it is difficult to predict what to expect in this area.  We do know, however, that action is already underway to ensure that existing employment legislation will continue to operate effectively post Brexit.

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