REUTERS | Phil Noble

What’s on the agenda for in-house lawyers in May 2017?

Theresa May’s announcement of a general election on 8 June 2017, and the accompanying period of “purdah”,  will have an impact on several issues that in-house lawyers have been tracking recently, in particular the various proposals on corporate governance reform. Other notable developments this month include final guidance on gender pay gap reporting and two consultations on the General Data Protection Regulation.

Parliamentary report on improving corporate governance

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee published its report on corporate governance in April. Although the committee does not believe that a radical overhaul of the current framework is necessary, the report makes several recommendations on improving corporate governance, including that:

  • The Financial Reporting Council be given additional powers to engage and hold to account company directors in respect of the full range of their duties.
  • A rating system be developed that will publicise examples of good and bad corporate governance practice by companies.
  • A voluntary code of corporate governance be drawn up for large private companies.
  • The structure of executive pay be simplified.

A government White Paper on corporate governance was expected to be published in the summer but this is likely to be delayed due to the election. It will be interesting to see how corporate governance reform is addressed in the respective political manifestos when they are published in the coming weeks.

This toolkit highlights all the various proposals and progress on the UK corporate governance reform.

Final guidance on gender pay gap reporting obligations

From 6 April 2017, large private and voluntary sector employers (those with 250 or more employees) are required to analyse their gender pay gap each April, and publish a gender pay gap report no later than 4 April 2018. Thereafter, they must produce and publish an annual report.

Acas and the Government Equalities Office have published the final version of the joint guidance on mandatory gender pay gap reporting, which clarifies several areas of uncertainty, in particular in relation to casual workers and contractors, pension contributions and bonuses. The lack of any enforcement provisions or sanctions for non-compliance mean that, in practice, employers will have a reasonable amount of discretion over how to calculate their gender pay and bonus gap figures.

Employers have begun to publish their gender pay gap information on the government’s gender pay gap data website. The online portal displays the mandatory information required: percentage figures for the gender pay gap and gender bonus gap, using both the mean and median average, and the proportion of men and women within each pay quartile.

Closing dates for General Data Protection Regulation consultations

In April, the government launched a call for views on national law derogations from the EU General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (GDPR). The GDPR contains some provisions that allow member states discretion to legislate in certain areas. The government is therefore seeking views on how such derogations or exemptions should be implemented, under 14 categories or “themes”, which include sanctions, demonstrating compliance, third country transfers and sensitive personal data and exceptions. The closing date for responses is 10 May 2017.

The Article 29 Working Party has also published a consultation on Data Protection Impact Assessments which is open until 23 May 2017. In addition, final guidelines on data protection officers, data portability and identifying a lead supervisory authority under the GDPR have been published. Organisations should find the guidelines helpful in filling in the gaps around what the GDPR provisions do not explain in practical terms.

Practical Law In-house Robert Clay

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