- September 29, 2015
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Autumn Winter 2015 Newsletters
Employment Legislation – Recent Important changes and a Timetable for the coming months
National minimum wage
- Adult rate: £6.70 per hour (from £6.50) – From April 2016 this will only apply to 21-24 year olds.
- Rate for 18-20 year olds: £5.30 per hour (from £5.13)
- Rate for 16-17 year olds £3.87 per hour (from £3.79)
- Apprentices: £3.30 per hour (from £2.73)
Other Employment Law Changes – 1 October 2015
- tribunals lose the power to make wider recommendations in discrimination cases – now they can only make recommendations relating to the individual complainant
- the right for Sikhs to wear turbans (instead of safety helmets – currently only allowed on building sites) will be expanded to all workplaces, subject to various exceptions.
- self-employed people become exempt from health & safety laws if they have no employees, subject to various exceptions.
The National Living Wage (NLW) will come into force in April 2016. It will apply to those aged 25 and over, and will be set at the initial rate of £7.20 per hour. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) will continue to apply as before, with the NLW applying over and above that amount for those aged 25 and over.
September 2015 Enterprise Bill
The government has published an Enterprise Bill. The employment-law related aspects are:
- protecting the ‘apprentice’ brand, by (amongst other things) making it a criminal offence to offer an apprenticeship course or training if it is not a statutory apprenticeship. More details will be given of the required standards to be met to be deemed an Apprenticeship.
- a power to introduce, by statutory instrument, a cap on public sector exit payments of £95,000 (or such other amount as is specified) in a 28 day period.
Fit For Work Scheme
The Government backed Fit for Work scheme, which came into effect from April onwards around the country, announced in September that the system now enables company referrals to be made to the Service; not just referrals from a GP. More information and guidance on how to make a referral are available at: http://fitforwork.org/employer/ .
Trade Union Bill – proposals take shape.
Note that this Bill is in the fairly early stages of political debate and things may change – however it gives an insight into the Government’s thoughts on this topic.
- Strike ballots will require 50% of eligible union members to take part.
- In some key Public Sector services, an additional requirement; 40% of those entitled to vote must be in favour of action.
- At present it is unlawful to use agency staff to cover work that would have been done by those taking strike action. It is proposed to remove this ban.
- More information required on each ballot paper including the type of industrial action proposed and more details of the matters under dispute.
- A fresh ballot every 4 months.
- Twice the notice of planned action to the Employer – 14 days from 7 days.
- Tougher penalties for breaches of picketing rules.
- Removing the option for Public Sector employees to pay union subs from salary.
Holiday pay arrears
From 1 July an amendment to the law means that claims for unlawful deductions from wages in respect of arrears for holiday pay are limited to a period of 2 years prior to the presentation of the claim (provided the claim is made in the employment tribunal). The regulations also amend the Working Time Regs to prevent holiday pay claims being made as a breach of contract claim in the civil court where claims can go back 6 years.
Changes to driving licences
From Monday 8th June the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence is no longer valid. The old style licences which were issued before 1998 will still remain valid. The DVLA have said that 400,000 counterparts had to be replaced last year.
Penalty points which were recorded on the counterpart will now be available online. An employee will still have to share this information with you and can do so online for free. Licence holders will need their driving licence number, National Insurance Number and postcode in the driving licence to be able to obtain their licence details. The service will generate a ‘check code’ which an employee can pass on to you to allow you to view the licence details. These details can also be printed or saved.
If you or an employee is hiring a car you will need to request a unique code. The code will last for 72 hours in which time the hire company can make all the necessary checks on your licence. You can get the code by using the ‘view driving licence’ link above.
Exclusivity Clauses in Zero Hours Contracts
One of the newly elected Governments first moves was to enforce the banning of exclusivity clauses in zero hours (casual) contracts. Some Employers were appearing to abuse the use of such contracts by putting pressure on workers to respond to work requests – making it difficult to have a similar arrangement with other employers.
Woolworths – Redundancy Consultation Decision
The European Court of Justice has handed down its judgment in the Woolworths and Ethel Austin cases.
The ECJ held that ‘establishment’, in the collective redundancy legislation, refers to an individual workplace (or, more accurately, the entity to which the workers made redundant are assigned to carry out their duties), not to the employer as a whole.
So when establishing headcount to see whether an employer needs to engage in collective consultation (required when contemplating 20+ redundancies in a period of 90 days), Woolworths was right to count each store as a separate ‘establishment’. This, in turn, meant that it did not need to engage in collective consultation with staff who worked in a store with a headcount of less than 20.
The ECJ has formally referred the case back to the Court of Appeal, but the Court of Appeal’s decision is now likely to be a formality – i.e. reversing the decision of the EAT in the summer of 2013 which set the employment law world afire.