On 23 October we’ll running our next Employment Law Update workshop. This half day session is aimed at business owners and managers who need to keep up to speed with the changes, to make sure they stay legal. We’ll go through all the new changes and give you the opportunity to find out how they might affect your business.
There are still some places available, so to join us at Hennerton Golf Club in Wargrave, Berkshire for just £15 +VAT, click here.
Here are a few of the changes we’ll be looking at.
Antenatal rights for fathers and partners
Working fathers will have the choice to take unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments with a pregnant partner. These rights will be available for employees who are in “qualifying relationships”, which means they:
- are the expected child’s father
- are the pregnant woman’s husband or civil partner
- live with the woman in an enduring family relationship and are not a relative
- are one of a same-sex couple who is to be treated as the child’s parent under the assisted reproduction provisions
- are the potential applicant for a parental order in relation to a child who is expected to be born to a surrogate mother.
From 1 October both employees are permitted to take time off to attend the same appointment. However you may refuse to grant an employee time off where it is “reasonable” to do so. But you must tread carefully as employees can bring a tribunal claim against you for unreasonably refusing time off. You should adopt a clear policy of how such requests will be dealt with and the parameters for refusal.
Employment tribunals must order equal pay audits
Greater sanctions are to come into force to ensure that employers are carrying out equal pay audits. As part of a new tougher regime, employers who are found in breach of equal pay legislation can be ordered by the Employment Tribunals to carry out an equal pay audit and make the results of that audit public. If the Tribunal determines that you have unreasonably failed to comply with its obligations, it can impose a fine of up to £5,000 at each hearing, in order to address your non-compliance.
Reservists better protected against unfair dismissal
To encourage more new recruits to sign up as a reservist of the armed forces, the Government is making signing up more attractive to people who worry that enlisting might cause problems with their job and career. From 1 October 2014, the statutory qualifying period for unfair dismissal will be removed in the case of a dismissal connected with an employee’s membership of the Reserve Forces. However, reservists will still have to prove that it was unfair to dismiss them because of their absences from work – they will not be treated as automatically unfairly dismissed.
The changes will apply to employees whose effective date of termination falls after 1 October 2014. Prior to these changes, reservists were at a considerable disadvantage when pursuing a claim for unfair dismissal as a period of call-up could not count towards the two year qualifying period needed to bring a claim.
The government is also reducing the financial burden on reservists’ employers.Small and medium-sized employers will now be able to claim £500 per month (pro-rated for part-months and part-time employees working fewer than 35 hours per week) from the Ministry of Defence during periods when a reservist employee is absent on military service. Employers will also be able to claim up to £110 a day for additional salary costs incurred in providing cover for the absent reservist.
Increase in national minimum wage
Following the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission the Government has implemented the following increases to the national minimum wage which take effect from 1 October 2014: the standard rate for those aged 21 and above will increase from £6.31 to £6.50 an hour; the rate for those aged 18-20 will increase from £5.03 to £5.13 an hour; and the rate for those above the compulsory school but aged under 18 will increase from £3.72 to £3.79 an hour.
There’s a lot more happening, so to keep ahead of the changes and to find out more about these ones, join us on our workshop on 23 October 2014.