Employment Law Update – October 2014.
Employment law is an ever evolving area of civil law which can make it difficult for employers to ensure that they act in accordance with Employment Legislation. To assist with these we have detailed 5 of the most significant Employment Law changes of the past 12 months. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and should you wish any further information on further changes to Employment Law you should contact us directly.
National Minimum Wage Increase
From 1st October 2014 the rate for National Minimum Wage increases. This will mean that the rate for an adult (21 years and over ) will now be £6.50 per hour; 18-20 year olds will be entitled to £5.13, 16-17 year olds £3.79 and apprentices £2.73.
It is worth noting that HMRC have stressed that any employer found not to be adhering to the increased rates could be fined up to £20,000 per employee.
Interestingly recently, at the Labour party conference, a pledge was made to further increase the National Minimum Wage to £8.00 per hour for adults over 21 by the year 2020. This is quite a significant increase and will, no doubt, be of concern to those employers affected.
Changes to The Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regularions “TUPE”
Changes have been made to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), which protect the employment terms and conditions of employees who are transferred from 1 organisation to another. The regulations have been improved to make sure both employers and staff are treated fairly when a transfer takes place.
Under the new regulations:
Early conciliation introduced
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 introduces a requirement for potential claimants to an Employment Tribunal to lodge details of their proposed claim with Acas, the conciliation service, in the first instance from 6 April 2014.
Acas will offer the parties the opportunity to engage in conciliation with a conciliation officer. This is beneficial for employers as it allows for early settlement of matters and may save the need for expensive and time consuming litigation.
Financial penalties will be imposed on employers losing employment tribunal claims
From 6 April 2014 employment tribunals have the power to impose financial penalties of between £100 – £5,000 (payable to the Government) on employers if they lose and their case has “aggravating features”. These awards are only likely to be imposed sparingly in instances where the employer’s conduct has been particularly reprehensible.
That being said what will constitute “aggravating features” will remain to be seen and tested by the courts!
Changes to Flexible Working Regulations.
Prior to 30 June 2014 the statutory right to request flexible working was limited to employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service, who are making the request to care for a child or an adult in need of care.
On the 30 June 2014 amendments to the Children and Families Act 2014 came into force. The right to request flexible working was extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment. As before, an eligible employee can only make one request in any 12 month period. The procedure for considering flexible working requests was also abolished and replaced with a new statutory procedure.
The statutory right to request is set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996 (as amended) and, from 30 June 2014, the new Flexible Working Regulations 2014.
However, the format for an employee to make a flexible working request will not change. The employee will still need to submit a request in writing, specify the change requested, and the date on which it is proposed to come into effect. The employee will also have to explain what effect, if any, they think the proposed change will have on the employer and how such change could be dealt with.
On receipt of a written flexible working request, an employer has 3 months to consider the request, discuss it with the employee and notify the employee of the outcome. This timescale can be extended (on agreement with the employee.
Whilst we would stress the importance of being up to date with employment law changes we would equally stress the importance of having an expert advisor on hand to advise you on day-to-day employment issues that arise, such as dealing with grievances or disciplinary issues or indeed to assist you in the preparation of employment tribunals. At Pomphreys we can offer such a service at a very competitive rate, both on an ongoing and one off basis. Should you wish to discuss this further please do not hesitate to contact our Sarah Dodds at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01698 373 365.
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