A quick 'heads up' on some employment issues that may affect your business now and in the near future.
Upcoming Legislation and Changes
Zero Hours Contracts - the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill is progressing through Parliament and it contains provisions which will prevent employers using exclusivity clauses (tying a worker to one employer) and make existing clauses invalid. Further consultation is being done around these provisions.
Adoption Leave - from the 5th April 2015 employees will no longer need to have 26 weeks service to qualify for statutory adoption leave and adoption pay will reflect maternity pay, which will be 90% of normal earnings for the first 6 weeks (for qualifying employees).
Parental Leave - from 5th April 2015, the right to unpaid parental leave will be extended to parents of any child under the age of 18 years, who have one years continuous service.
Surrogate Parents - from 5th April 2015, surrogate parents who meet the eligibility criteria will be able to take adopton, paternity and shared parental leave and pay. Both parents will also be eligible to take unpaid time off to attend 2 antenatal appointments with the women carrying the child.
Pensions Auto-enrolment continues. Organisations with 50-249 employees must comply by 1 April 2015 and those with less than 50 employees will be within scope from 1 June 2015 - 1 April 2017. Businesses which were set up after 1 April 2012 have until 1 February 2018 to comply.
Recent Changes (already in effect)
Holiday Pay - Following an Employment Appeal Tribunal judgement in 2014 employers now have to take into account contractual and non-contractual overtime (that which has to be worked if offered), commission and potentially, work related travel payments if made as part of the reward package they pay employees, when calculating their holiday pay. Employees can claim backdated holiday pay for any deductions made in the past, provided their last deduction was no more than 3 months ago (as this links to the 'series of deductions' that the ruling requires). The Government has just brought in new regulations which mean that claims for backdated holiday pay/deductions from wages, made on or after the 1st July 2015 will be limited to 2 years. The higher holiday only needs to be paid on the first 4 weeks leave (EU leave) and not the other 1.6 (UK leave) but the admin burden of differentiating may mean companies choose to pay the higher rate for all holiday.
Shared Parental Leave - Regulations came into force on the 1st December 2014 which mean that qualifying parents/adopters/surrogate parents of babies born, or placed, on or after 5 April 2015, will be eligible to take Shared Parental Leave. Parents will be able to end the mother's maternity leave and pay early and share the balance with her partner, at the same or different times, and in one or more blocks of leave. Existing rights to maternity and paternity leave and pay are unaffected. Mothers will still have 2 weeks' compulsory maternity leave (4 for manual workers), but they can share the remaining 50 weeks leave and 37 weeks pay (Children and Families Act 2014). See Useful Links for an online calculator of the leave and pay employees are entitled to when they have a child whilst working.
Managing Sickness Absence - the Government has launched a 'Fit for Work' advisory service (tel. 0800 032 6235) and plans to introduce an occupational health assessment option in the summer. This service aims to help employers manage sickness absence, particularly frequent and long term absence, and enable them to refer an employee for an occupational health assessment if they have been/are due to be absent for 28 days or more. Further information is available from GOV.UK.
Reservists and Unfair Dismissal - changes to the Defense Reform Act 2014 mean that Reservists no longer need to have 2 years service to claim unfair dismissal if they are dismissed because of their reservist service.
Equal Pay - Employment Tribunals can order Employers to carry out an equal pay audit where it is clear they have breached the equal pay provisions of the Equality Act 2010.
National Minimum Wage - the standard rates increased on 1 October 2014. For the latest rates and information on National Minimum Wage see our Useful Links page.
Ante-Natal Appointments for Prospective Fathers/Partners - since 1 October 2014 prospective fathers/partners have the right to take unpaid leave to attend 2 antenatal appointments with the expectant mother.
Flexible Working - all employees with at least 26 weeks continuous service now have the right to request flexible working. It is the Employers duty to consider all requests in a reasonable manner and timescale. Companies can refuse requests on business grounds. (Children and Families Act 2014 - this clause came into effect on 30 June 2014).
Reclaiming Statutory Sick Pay(SSP) - the scheme that allowed employers to claim back statutory sick pay payments was abolished on 6 April 2014. For more information on SSP payments see our Useful Links page.
Employment Tribunals - any complaint/dispute from an employee about their employer brought since 6 May 2014 has to go through ACAS's early conciliation scheme, where ACAS will try to facilitate a resolution or settlement agreement, before the employee can register an employment tribunal claim. ACAS will contact you if your organisation is the subject of a complaint to start the conciliation process. The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal rose to £76,574 in April 2014.
Regulation Freeze extended to Employers with less than 50 employees - qualifying businesses are exempt from new regulations which have/do come into force after 31 March 2014 if a business can evidence that adhering to a regulation would result in a disproportionate burden on the business and impede growth.
Illegal Employment of an Immigrant - the maximum penalty for employing someone who isn't legally entitled to work in the UK rose to £20,000 on 6 April 2014.
The information on this page is not meant to provide detailed information or advice. Full advice and further detailed information should be sought before taking action in relation to the information above.
Updated: 14 January 2015. Source: CIPD HR-Inform Legislative Changes (July 2014) and CIPD Employment Law Development Pages.