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Hot topics for 2018

The EU General Data Protection Regulation will continue to challenge employers as they will be required to comply with new rules governing the processing of personal data, including those relating to consent, transparency and access rights from 25 May 2018. The UK government also intends to replace the Data Protection Act 1998 with a new Data Protection Bill which will be debated at third reading in the House of Lords on 17 January 2018 before progressing to the House of Commons.

The gig economy remains an uncertain area of law as we await the government's response to the Taylor review. In February 2018, the issue of employment status will be examined further by the Supreme Court in Pimlico Plumbers Ltd v Smith and by the employment tribunal in Boxer v Excel Group Services Ltd.

Regulatory references in the financial sector will undergo significant change with the planned extension of the senior managers and certification regime (SM&CR) to all firms authorised under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The new regime (which aims to increase transparency in the requesting and giving of references) is expected to be rolled out during the summer of 2018.

Mandatory gender pay gap reporting. The first reports for large private and voluntary sector employers are due by 4 April 2018. Large public sector employers must report by 30 March 2018.

Brexit. It is difficult to make accurate predictions of future Brexit-related developments, as much depends on the progress of negotiations between the UK and the EU, which are in turn influenced by politics. The current aims of the UK government and the EU institutions could change during the course of 2018.

At the time of writing, PLC report that UK and EU negotiators have the following aims:

  • The UK and the EU will start drafting a withdrawal agreement that reflects the commitments they agreed on 8 December 2017.

  • 2018 will see the continuation of negotiations on withdrawal issues, including those not yet addressed in the first phase of negotiations.

  • In January 2018, as part of the second phase of negotiations, the Council of the European Union will adopt negotiating directives dealing with transitional arrangements. David Davis has said that he is aiming to get the "outlines" of an implementation period agreed in the first quarter of 2018.

  • In March 2018, in another part of the second phase, the European Council will adopt additional negotiating guidelines. These will trigger the EU to start “preliminary and preparatory discussions with the aim of identifying an overall understanding of the framework for the future relationship”. Until then, the EU will continue internal preparatory discussions on the scope of the “framework” for the future relationship, and the UK will clarify its position.

  • The UK and the EU will conclude Article 50 negotiations by October 2018 to allow time for the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the UK to approve the agreement by 29 March 2019.

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