New Consultation on UK Employment Tribunal Fees

Employment Tribunal

In 2013, the Government introduced fees for bringing claims to the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal.  Although they were then abolished following a Supreme Court ruling in 2017, the issue is back in the spotlight and the subject of fee-rocious debate once more following the publication of a Government consultation into their re-introduction. 

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Belgium – the synergy between pension contributions and the severance indemnity

If you terminate an employee in Belgium you will often need to pay a severance indemnity.  This is calculated in part by reference to the employee’s pay for his notice period.  It is calculated on the “full salary”, including not just base salary, 13th month and vacation pay, but also all other benefits enjoyed by the employee in the framework of their employment. This includes the employer’s contributions to the pension scheme over the course of the 12 months prior to termination.

In practice, this seemingly small element can sometimes cause unpleasant surprises: often, at the time when the first rough severance computation is done, the amount of the pension contributions is not known, or is even overlooked entirely. When this component is added in a later stage, it can materially inflate the severance indemnity if the pension plan is generous, which is often the case for older plans and/or plans for senior managers, where employer contributions of up to 10-15 % are not uncommon.

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Employers Take Note: Big Changes Ahead for the H-1B Lottery, H-1B Filing Process, and USCIS Fees

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced updates to the H-1B visa lottery process, availability of online H-1B filings, and increases to most U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) petition filing fees. The H-1B visa lottery and online filing changes will go into effect before the next lottery opens on March 6, 2024, and the fee increase begin on April 1, 2024.

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UK Business Immigration – what’s in store for 2024?

There are several key immigration developments in the pipeline which are likely to affect UK employers.  Here’s what you need to know:

6 February 2024: Visa Application costs increase

The Immigration Health Surcharge is increasing from £624 to £1,035 per year for most adult UK visa applications from today, 6 February 2024.  For under-18s, students and Youth Mobility Scheme applicants, the lower rate will increase from £470 to £776 per year.

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D.C. Employers Need to Prepare for More Than Humidity This Summer: New Wage Transparency Law Effective in June (US)

On January 12, 2024, the District of Columbia joined a growing list of jurisdictions with wage transparency laws after Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the Wage Transparency Omnibus Amendment Act of 2023 (the “Act”). The Act amends parts of the Wage Transparency Act of 2014, as well as introduces several new employee-friendly requirements that will go into effect on June 30, 2024, including an employer obligation to disclose pay ranges in job postings.

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Coverage Testing – The Forgotten Nondiscrimination Rule            

This blog post addresses retirement plans that are intended to be tax-qualified under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code).

Specifically, this post will provide information related to:

  • “ Coverage Testing” rules under Code Section 410(b)
  • Related “ Controlled Group” rules under Code Section 414

Quite often, we see employers, particularly smaller employers, design and implement tax-qualified retirement plans without a basic understanding of how these rules apply to their plans. This results in confusion over if the plan is required to take corrective action under these rules in a particular plan year.

This blog post is intended to provide employers with a fundamental understanding of these rules, so that the plan sponsor can mitigate potential compliance issues at the time of the plan’s implementation.

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Supreme Court of California Holds Trial Courts Lack Inherent Authority to Dismiss Unmanageable PAGA Claims

In Estrada v. Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc., No. S274340, 2024 WL 188863 (Cal. Jan. 18, 2024), the Supreme Court of California resolved a split among the Courts of Appeal regarding whether trial courts possess inherent authority to dismiss California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) claims based on their lack of manageability and held that courts lack such authority. The employer in Estrada contended that the PAGA claim brought against it was unmanageable because it involved a substantial number of individual issues and would require testimony from a vast number of individuals. This decision takes a potentially potent tool for defending against PAGA claims away from defendant employers and may encourage plaintiffs to pursue the broadest possible PAGA claims.

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DOL Publishes Final Independent Contractor Rule (US)

Way back in October 2022, we discussed the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) issuance of a notice of new rule that would substantially change the test for whether a worker is an employee, and thus covered by the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), or is an independent contractor, and therefore not covered by those FLSA provisions. After an extensive notice-and-comment period, on January 10, 2024, the DOL published the final rule.

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Workplace Harassment in Germany: “We Encourage You to Speak Up!” But to Whom?

Whistleblower

In the first of a short series of blog posts on workplace harassment in Germany, Laura Sparschuh highlights Germany’s new Whistleblower Protection Act and key issues for employers to consider when handling reports of harassment.  

In Germany, the Whistleblower Protection Act came into full effect in December 2023. The main news is that employers with more than 50 employees are now required to establish and maintain channels and offices (the WPA reporting office) for reporting misconduct that is covered by the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Such reporting channels are not new under German legislation. The General Act on Equal Treatment, for example, requires employers to establish complaints boards to allow employees to report incidents covered by that legislation. This mainly affects harassment on grounds of race or ethnic origin, gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. In such circumstances, the complaints board assesses the complaint and informs the complainant without having to meet any stringent deadlines or other formal requirements.

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US State Law Roundup – 2023 Year-end Update

Employment Law

State and local legislatures were active throughout 2023 in passing laws and ordinances that will impact employers of all sizes and all industries in 2024.

Click HERE for our summary of these laws and related developments, including important developments in California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New York and elsewhere!

If you haven’t already, you might also want to review our updates from the first half of 2023, available here and here.

As always, our team will continue to monitor these and other state employment law developments. If you have questions or need guidance, please contact your SPB lawyer. Happy New Year!

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