A number of changes to employment law have come into effect so far in 2014, with several more due to come into force later on in the year. In order to avoid prosecution, employers should ensure they are up to date with legislative changes. Here’s the CPS guide…
Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (TUPE)
On the 31st January, 2014, various reforms were implemented to TUPE by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It is hoped that these changes will go some way towards reducing bureaucracy. One of the most important is a provision allowing pre-transfer consultation in order to ensure compliance to the current collective rules of redundancy.
As of 1 April, 2014, employers now have six weeks rather than four to auto-enrol qualifying employees into an appropriate pension scheme. In addition, employers will also have longer to inform the Pensions Regulator.
Repeal of Discrimination Questionnaire Procedures
Due to evidence that the forms are ineffective, as well as time-consuming and costly, the government made the decision to repeal the Discrimination Questionnaire Procedure (the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013), as of 6 April, 2014. Individuals are still within their rights to make a claim of discrimination and can use alternative means to gather information and evidence for tribunal.
The Introduction of Early Conciliation
From 6 April, 2014, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 will require that potential claimants first contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) before lodging a claim with the Tribunal Service. In doing so, there will be the opportunity for both parties to work with a conciliation officer, with the aim of achieving an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Since 6 April the right to flexible working has been extended through the Children and Families Bill. Previously only those employees in a caring role or those with children had a legal right to request flexible working hours. This privilege is now open to all employees.
As of 6 April, 2014, rates of statutory pay were increased, including: Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) - standard; Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) - ordinary and additional; Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP); and Statutory Paternity Pay - ordinary and additional.
New Powers for Tribunals to Issue Penalties
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 implemented additional powers from April 2014 for tribunals to impose fines on those employers not conforming to employment rights through at least one aggravating characteristic.
National Minimum Wage
The National Minimum Wage is due to rise from 1 October, 2014, in response to recommendations from the Low Pay Commission. The National Minimum Wage (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2014 will see an hourly main rate increase of 19p to £6.50. Younger workers and apprentices will also be subject to a small increase. Employers will need to plan for these rate rises in their budgets.
Equal Pay Audits
From October 2014 The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 is expected to prescribe new regulations requiring employment tribunals to instigate equal pay audits where it is felt employers have been in breach of the provisions described in the Equality Act 2010. Once the audit is complete, the tribunal can make a judgement as to whether or not the audit is compliant. Non-compliance may incur a penalty fine, paid to the Secretary of State.
As a result of a recent review, the government plans to overhaul the system of sickness absence in the UK. The new initiative, The Health and Work Service, is due to start in some areas from October 2014, with national implementation in April 2015. Under the scheme, occupational health will be offered to GPs, employers and employees. Those employees who are off work due to illness for four weeks or more will be assessed independently through a state-funded programme. Additional support through case management will be provided for complex cases.
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