Employment Law update

Welcome to this two minute HR Blast! This time we are bringing you an employment law update. Don’t get left behind, find out all you need to know here:

2014-15 Employment Law changes

Hint: You may like to get your diary out to jot down a few of these dates!

31st January 2014 – Changes to TUPE

The new TUPE Regulations came into effect in January, updating the 2006 regulations.

The changes include:

  • Service provision change for relevant transfers
  • Changes to terms and conditions of employment
  • Dismissal and redundancies
  • Employee liability information (ELI)
  • Information and consultation rights

For further information, read the Acas leaflet here or keep an eye out for our up-coming HR Blast on TUPE!

31st March 2014 – Regulation freeze extended to small businesses
As you may remember, in 2011 the Government introduced a three-year freeze on burdensome regulations for businesses with less than 10 employees, including start-up businesses. Known as the micro-business moratorium, the Government have confirmed that they will extend the freeze to businesses with fewer than 50 employees for new regulations that come into force after 31st March 2014.

6th April 2014 – Statutory pay and employment rights limits increases and changes to tax thresholds

  • Statutory adoption/maternity/paternity/additional paternity pay will be increased from a weekly rate of £136.78 to £138.18 on this date.
  • Statutory Sick Pay will be increased on this date from £86.70 to £87.55 .
  • A week’s pay for the purpose of calculating the basic award for unfair dismissal and redundancy payments increases from £450 to £464.
  • The daily rate for guarantee pay increase from £24.20 to £25.00.
  • The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases from £74,200 to £76,574.
  • The minimum basic award for an automatic unfair dismissal (relating to trade union membership or activities) increased from £5,500 to £5,676.
  • There will be an increase in the income tax personal allowance to £10,000.

These rates will apply where the event leading to the entitlement of compensation or other payment occurred on or after 6th April 2014.

6th April 2014 – Employment Tribunals (Early Conciliation: Exemptions and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2014
From this date, prospective claimants will be required to contact ACAS before they are able to make a claim in the Employment Tribunal. ACAS will then attempt to resolve the dispute through an ‘early conciliation’ process, sounds good, right? We think so, but we do envisage a few bumps along the way… talk to us for further information and watch out for an up-coming HR Blast on this topic!

6th April 2014 – Immigration (Employment of Adults Subject to Immigration Control) (Maximum Penalty) (Amendment) Order 2014
This Order now states that the maximum penalty that the Secretary of State may require an employer to pay for employing an illegal migrant worker is £20,000, a £10,000 increase on the previous amount. Time to check you’re following all the steps when employing new workers, do they have the right to work in the UK? Do you have a copy of the appropriate documentation? Plus, no harm in going back and double checking your existing staff – is the paperwork in order? Was anyone missed out? Has anyone’s status changed since they joined you?

6th April 2014 – Discrimination questionnaire procedure repealed
From this date, the discrimination questionnaires provisions whereby an individual is able to obtain information about potential discrimination will be removed from the Equality Act 2010. We all know how long and technical these questionnaires were, so good news!

30th June 2014 – Reform of flexible working – Children and Families Act 2014
This Act will extend the right to request flexible working to all eligible employees. Eligible employees must have 26 weeks’ continuous service. The old procedure for requesting flexible rights will be replaced with a requirement on employers to consider requests in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable timeframe. We are expecting to see guidance from ACAS on how to manage requests later on this year. Contact us for guidance in the interim!

Warning: make sure your line managers know of this change as it will be costly if they just rebuff employees’ requests without following any formal procedure.

1st October 2014 – National Minimum Wage increases

  • The adult rate will increase from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour
  • The rate for 18-20 year olds will increase from £5.03 to £5.13 per hour
  • The rate for 16-17 year olds will increase from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour
  • The apprentice rate will increase from £2.68 to £2.73 per hour

Sometime in 2014 – Health and Work Service
The Government has tendered for the Health and Work Service, formally known as the ‘health and work assessment and advisory service’. It has been announced that this new service would be introduced from 2014 and we should find out soon whether or not the contract has been awarded…

The plan is to encourage all employees who have been off for four weeks or more to meet with an occupational health advisor. Read our blog on this or contact us for more information!

2014-15 – Auto-enrolment pensions
The new law provides that all employers must automatically enrol workers into a workplace pensions scheme if they:

  • Are aged between 22 and the State Pension age
  • Earn more than £9,440 a year
  • Work in the UK

No doubt your preparations for this are already underway, but for further information on this please contact us.

Warning: there have been repeated warnings from the pensions industry that it might not have capacity for all the new schemes that need to be set up. If you leave it too late, you might not be able to find a supplier.

5th April 2015 – Draft regulations on Statutory Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Children and Families Act 2014)
As you may have seen in the media, the Government has plans to introduce shared parental leave in 2015. The draft regulations propose that mothers can share an untaken balance of leave and pay with their partner. This will apply to parents whose expected week of birth begins on or after 5th April 2015. We recommend that you schedule a date in your diary to update your family friendly policies/letters etc. in preparation for this…

Sometime in 2015 – Parental leave extended to 18
The Government has proposed to extend the right to unpaid parental leave to parents of any child under the age of 18 years. We think it is unlikely that this one will make a big difference!

If you have an extra minute spare, read on to find out about this recent decision on surrogacy and maternity leave and pay…

Case summary – CD v ST and Z v A
Two cases have now been considered by the European Court of Justice for a ruling to allow intended mothers who have had babies through a surrogacy arrangement to grant them paid leave following the birth of the babies.

The judgment has been made that EU law does not provide for ‘intended mothers’ to be entitled to paid leave equivalent to maternity leave or adoption leave.

We must admit that this decision seems odd given our Government’s intention to provide greater rights in the UK for parents including extending the right of flexible working and also providing for shared parental leave in 2015…

In the case of CD v ST, CD’s employer initially refused her request for paid time off and said that she was not entitled to paid maternity or adoption leave as she did not give birth to or adopt the baby. CD’s employer then later reconsidered and authorised her leave request.

CD brought claims of unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sex and/or pregnancy and maternity relating to the original refusal of her request. The Court found that a refusal to grant maternity leave to a commissioning mother did not constitute discrimination on grounds of sex, given that a commissioning father is not entitled to such leave either and that the refusal does not put female workers at a particular disadvantage compared with male worker…

Interesting indeed!

Our team at Jaluch understand the tribulations that Employment Law can present, so for commercial and practical advice, please contact us to find out if we can support you. No lengthy contract required and many of our clients pay us for actual usage on a monthly basis. But if you like to budget, why not ask about our fixed fee options. Friendly, plain English, commercial and always supportive. We have huge numbers of very loyal clients. We’d love it if you became our next very valued client. Call our head office on: 01425 479888.

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individuals matters.

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