Sir Brendan Barber, the chair of Acas, shares his predictions for what lies in store within the world of work for 2017.
Barber thinks that history may remember 2016 as the year of surprise voting results that defied polling experts, which ended with a period of industrial unrest. It is unlikely that the year ahead will be quieter and there are many changes on the horizon that will affect Britain’s workplaces.
There is still a great deal of uncertainty over how Brexit will impact the UK economy and employment law, much of which is based on European directives and regulations. The position of overseas workers will be a very important issue and how the EU exit affects them could have a huge impact on Britain’s businesses.
To help reduce the gender pay gap in Britain’s workplaces, large employers will have to report on differences between men and women’s pay from April this year. Acas will be launching new advice for employers on best practice to help them comply with the new law.
Gig working has been much in the news of late and is likely to be highly topical during 2017, not least because it is one of the issues being looked at by the Matthew Taylor review for the government.
Whilst this form of working offers flexibility for those who want it, our own research has found that many people on zero hours contracts and undertaking agency work are confused about their employment status and rights. This uncertainty can lead to fears around job security and there’s been a series of legal challenges against employers recently by workers.
Acas will be looking at gig work in more depth in 2017 and issuing further guidance around the many different types of employment status and accompanying workplace rights later this year.
Acas of course continues to conciliate in disputes between groups of employees and their employers before, during and after industrial action and 2017 looks set to be another busy year for Acas.
We are expecting to see more elements of the Trade Union Act being brought into effect in 2017. And Sir Ken Knight’s independent review of electronic voting is also set to report later this year.
Whatever the challenges and opportunities over the coming year, Acas will play its full part in helping to improve the economy by encouraging good workplace relations. Our services are highly valued by those who use them and our latest research shows that for every £1 we spend, there is at least £13 benefit to the economy.