Key developments on the agenda for businesses in March 2016 include the publication of gender pay gap regulations, the start of modern slavery reporting and the UK Budget.
2016 UK Budget on 16 March
The government has undertaken to publish a business tax roadmap by April, so this may come out in the Budget. We are also expecting updates about last year’s consultations on radical changes to the tax deductibility of interest for UK companies, the tax treatment of employment termination payments and wide-ranging changes to the pensions tax relief rules.
In addition, the government proposes to replace the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme and the climate change levy (CCL) with a single new tax based on the CCL. It also proposes a single energy reporting framework based on the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme. We expect to hear more on Budget day.
Gender pay gap regulations to be published
The Secretary of State is due to make regulations to require publication of information about gender pay gaps by companies with 250 or more employees by 26 March. The key metric that employers will be required to report is the overall mean and median gender pay gap across their workforce, using an hourly pay rate for each relevant employee. This deliberately mirrors the methodology used by the Office for National Statistics for calculating the national gender pay gap, presumably to allow employers and employees to compare the statistics to the national position.
Modern slavery and human trafficking statements required for FYs ending on or after 31 March
Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, requiring all commercial organisations carrying on business in the UK with a turnover of £36m or more to complete an annual modern slavery and human trafficking statement, will take effect in relation to financial years ending on or after 31 March 2016. The statement must disclose what steps the organisation has taken to ensure that human trafficking is not taking place in any of its supply chains or its business; or state that it has taken no such steps. This aims to ensure that businesses are transparent about what they are doing to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking.
Community Trade Mark Regulation due to be amended
The Community Trade Mark Regulation is due to be amended on 23 March 2016 (although certain amendments will not take effect until 1 October 2017). The amending regulation forms part of the European Commission’s overall plans for reform of trade mark law in the EU.
EU Data Protection Reform Package expected to be formally adopted
Now that the Council of the European Union has adopted a political agreement on the text of the General Data Protection Regulation (5455/16) and on the Data Protection Directive (5463/16), the Council and the European Parliament are expected to formally adopt the package in late March.
Progress on the EU-US privacy shield
The Article 29 Working Party is expected to give its opinion on the proposed EU-US privacy shield in late March/early April.
Last orders: consultations closing in March
For developments beyond March, see Key dates for in-house lawyers 2016.