- September 26, 2014
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Autum Winter 2014 Newsletters
Employment Legislation – Recent Important changes and a Timetable for the coming months
September / October
- The following changes will come into effect on 1 October 2014:
- The NMW rate for adults will increase from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour;
- The NMW rate for workers aged 18 to 20 will increase from £5.03 to £5.13 per hour;
- The NMW rate for 16 and 17 year olds will increase from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour; and
- The apprentice rate of the NMW, (which applies to apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over who are in the first year of their apprenticeship), will increase from £2.68 to £2.73 per hour.
- The accommodation offset (where the employee is provided with accommodation and charged by the Employer) will increase from £4.91 to £5.08 per day.
The Governments new Health and Work Service, which is essentially a government funded occupational health service launches this autumn – initially in selected geographical areas, and nationally from April/May 2015.
For a detailed breakdown of the how the service is expected to work, do read the article in Section Two.
The Department for Work and Pensions issued a press release in August announcing that the contract for the H&WS for England and Wales has been awarded to, one of the largest occupational health providers in the UK (Maximus). In Scotland, the H&WS will be arranged by the Scottish government.
From 1 October 2014 expectant fathers, or the partner of a pregnant woman, will be entitled to take unpaid time off work to attend two antenatal appointments with their partner.
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has produced a guide for Employers which sets out a series of FAQs including who is entitled, how much time an employee can take off, and an employee’s right to redress if their request for time off is refused.
From 1 October 2014 tribunals will be given the power to order a company to carry out an Equal Pay Audit where the employer has lost an Equal Pay claim or a related Sex Discrimination claim.
From 1 October 2014 the Reserve Forces (Payments to Employers and Partners) Regulations 2014 come into force.
At present, when called up, military reservists are paid directly by the Ministry of Defence – and employers can claim expenses in respect of additional costs incurred whilst replacing the reservist (to a maximum of £110 per day).
From 1st October, small and medium employers will also be able to receive up to £500 per month for each full month a reservist is absent from work (reduced pro rata for parts of a month, or part-time workers).
Early Conciliation. In September, Acas published its first figures on the operation of the early conciliation scheme that came into effect in April this year. The figures they have released cover the period of 6th April 2014 – 30 June 2014 and show that Acas received 17,145 notifications in that period, all but 540 of those coming from the employee rather than the employer.
Acas says that the notifications came in at about 1,000 a week during the run in month of April and that this figure went up to 1,600 a week once notification became mandatory in May. This says Acas is ‘in line with the numbers of notifications we expected to receive’.
In July the Advocate General of the European Court gave an initial opinion on obesity as a disability. However there is no reference to what obesity actually means in this particular case reference to the ECJ. In the UK, the Courts have said that obesity is not classed as a disability. A different decision by the full European Court will have many implications for employers.
Flexible working requests.On 30 June, regulations came into force which extend the right to make a request for flexible working to any employee who has been employed for 26 weeks (not just parents of children under 17, or 18 if disabled, and certain carers – as was previously the case).
The basic right to request is unchanged. Employees can only make one written request every year, the employer needs to deal with it within three months, and can refuse on any of eight (very wide) business grounds. A tribunal cannot normally investigate the rights and wrongs of the refusal, only whether the procedure has been properly followed. Maximum compensation for a failure to comply is eight weeks’ pay (currently capped at £464 per week). Employers need to ensure that they follow a reasonable procedure when handling requests. ACAS has issued guidance on what is reasonable!
More than 400 female employees at supermarket Asda, which employs 172,000 people, have brought a claim for equal pay against their employer.
The group said they have been underpaid in comparison to men in roles with equivalent work and skills requirements to their jobs. Their male counterparts work in the organisation’s distribution warehouses. If the claim is successful the women could be entitled to six years back pay.
In the supermarkets, check-out staff and shelf-stackers are mostly women. The people in the warehouses are pretty much all men. Equal pay claims require gender to be at the heart of the difference in pay.
Whilst there have been advancements on equal pay in the public sector, with moves to single status and major job evaluation exercises, the evidence suggests that the private sector have not been so proactive.
A motion to limit unpaid work experience was successfully passed in Parliament in May. The motion proposes that unpaid work experience should last no longer than four weeks, after which time the individual is considered an intern and is entitled to the national minimum wage.
This does not mean an imminent change in the law, but it demonstrates MPs’ views on the issue and could influence Government policy.
Those on internships may already be entitled to the national minimum wage, depending on what they are actually doing. However at present, some businesses refuse to pay the minimum wage on the basis that the placement is “work experience”. According to the think tank IPPR, in 2010 there were approximately 100,000 unpaid internships in the UK.
From this month, new tribunal complaints for claims such as unfair dismissal and discrimination will have to be referred to ACAS for an initial attempt at finding a solution. Claims to tribunal must now be accompanied by a certificate from ACAS to show that this stage has been completed. For more on this, do read our April Newsletter article.
Also from May 2014, information required under TUPE rules must now be provided at least 28 days before the takeover or merger, not 14 days as before. Note that this does not apply in Northern Ireland yet.
On 16th May 2014 the maximum civil penalty for employing a migrant worker unlawfully doubled to £20,000. The civil penalty applies where there was some negligence by the Employer, rather than a deliberate flaunting of the law, which is more likely to attract a criminal sanction (unlimited fine or imprisonment). Linked to this the Home Office has also revised a Code of Practice to help avoid discrimination in recruitment: Code of practice for employers
(Avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working)
Pension Auto Enrolment
Pensions auto-enrolment – the time period for employers to auto-enrol eligible jobholders into a qualifying pension scheme is extended from one month to six weeks. The deadline for providing information to the Pensions Regulator is also extended – from 1 April.
Auto-enrolment dates for small and medium sized employers are as follows:
|Number of Employees||Staging Date|
|160 to 249||1 April 2014|
|90 to 159||1 May 2014|
|62 to 89||1 July 2014|
|61 to 30||1 August 2014 to 1 October 2015|
|Fewer than 30||1 June 2015 to 2017|