National minimum wage increased from 1st October 2014

The national minimum wage increases from £6.31 to £6.50 with effect from 1 October 2014. The youth rate increases from £5.03 to £5.13 per hour.

New payments to employers employing military reservists

New regulations come into force on 1 October 2014 which will help employers employing military reservists. At the moment, when called up, military reservists are paid directly by the Ministry of Defence. Employers can claim expenses in respect of additional costs incurred whilst replacing the reservist (to a maximum of £110 per day).

However, from 1st October, small and medium sized employers will also be able to receive up to £500 per month for each full month a reservist is absent from work (reduced pro rata for parts of a month, or part-time workers).

Anti-natal appointments from 1st October 2014 – new right to accompany pregnant women

The new right for employees and qualifying agency workers to unpaid time off to accompany a pregnant woman to ante-natal appointments comes into force on 1 October 2014.

The new right applies to the pregnant woman’s husband, civil partner or partner (including a same-sex partner), the father or parent of a pregnant woman’s child, and intended parents in a surrogacy situation who meet specified conditions. The entitlement is to unpaid leave for one or two appointments and the amount of time off is capped at 6.5 hours for each appointment.

There will also be the new right to paid and unpaid time off work for adopters to attend meetings in advance of a child being placed with them for adoption. This right will come into force on 5 April 2015.

Health and Work Service supplier announced

Health Management Limited, a Maximus Company, will deliver the government’s new Health and Work Service in England and Wales.

The state spends around £12 billion a year on health-related benefits and £2 billion a year in healthcare and foregone taxes and employers face an annual bill of around £9 billion for sick pay and associated costs.

To help reduce this cost the Government are to set up an Occupational Health Service and have announced that Health Management Limited are the appointed occupational health provider to help employees and employers manage sickness absence.

Employees on sick leave will normally be referred by their GPs and will receive an occupational health assessment when they reach, or are expected to reach, more than 4 weeks’ sickness absence.  Nearly a million employees a year reach the 4-week sickness absence point.

Occupational Health will create a return to work plan, which will be shared with the employee’s employer and GP.

More general health and work advice will be available to GPs, employers and employees via telephone and a website.

The service will be launched in late 2014 with a phased roll-out coming to a close by the end of May 2015.

Severely obese staff may gain disability rights

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) stated that morbid obesity may come within the meaning of “disability” under EU law, following his opinion on the case of Karsten Kaltoft v Billund.  The Advocate General’s opinion is not binding on the ECJ. However, if the ECJ agrees its decision will be binding on UK national courts and tribunals, which will need to consider morbid obesity as a potential disability under the Equality Act 2010.

Implications for employers

If morbid obesity is deemed to be a disability under UK law, employers will be obliged to make reasonable adjustments for morbidly obese staff who are placed at a substantial disadvantage by their medical condition.  Which will mean employers will find themselves under a legal obligation to make adjustments, such as providing parking spaces close to the workplace entrance, special desks, duties which involve reduced walking or travelling or possibly even ensuring healthy meal options are provided in the staff canteen.

We await the decision from the ECJ

30th June – The right to request flexible working is extended.

From the 30th June 2014 the Children and Families Act 2014 extends the right to request flexible working to all eligible employees.  Employers will need to ensure that requests are considered reasonably and fairly to avoid the risks of discrimination claims.

Briefly, the right is extended to all employees whether or not they are parents or carers provided that:

  •  They have 26 weeks’ continuous employment at the date the request is made.
  • They have not made a request to work flexibly in the preceding 12 months.
  • They are not agency workers or office holders.

The current procedure for handling requests is abolished but employers must now deal with the application in a reasonable manner and notify the employee of the decision within 3 months.

It is therefore time to revise current policies to reflect the change to include all eligible employees.  You may also want to revise the procedure you take but if it reflects the current statutory procedure you may only want to make minimal changes as the process is already conducted in a reasonable manner.

One point to remember is that the legislation states only that an eligible employee can request a change to the hours they are required to work which means eligible employees can request reduce hours but also those on a flexible hours contract my also request to increase their hours.

Increase to National Minimum Wage – 14th October 2014

The government has announced the following rates will come into effect on 1 October 2014:

  • a 19p (3%) increase in the adult rate (from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour)
  • a 10p (2%) increase in the rate for 18-20 year olds (from £5.03 to £5.13per hour)
  • a 7p (2%) increase in the rate for 16-17 year olds (from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour)
  • a 5p (2%) increase in the rate for apprentices (from £2.68 to £2.73 per hour)

Right to request flexible working to be extended

It’s almost time to up date those Flexible Working Policies.

From 30 June, the right to request flexible working is to be extended to all employees with 26 weeks’ service.  This is currently only available to those with children under 17 (or 18 for parents of disabled children) and carers.

The current statutory procedure for dealing with requests will be replaced with a duty on employers to consider any request in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable period of time.  (There will be no obligation on the employer to agree to a request, just to consider it.)

For guidance or help to amend or implement a new flexible working policy (or any employment policy) please contact us on info@mbhrsupport.co.uk or call 0845 0179830

Free HR Advice Clinic – 21st May 2014

Mandy Brearley will be at the Witney Business & Innovation Centre from 10am to 12 noon on 21st May 2014 giving free advice on any HR issue.

  • Are you taking on your first employee and want to know where to start?
  • Are staff issues taking up too much of your time?
  • Are you sure your HR documents are up to date & legally compliant?
  • Do you just want to ensure you have got it right?

If you would like free advice and guidance drop in on the day.

 

2013 Key Changes in employment law every business needs to know

Already implemented:

Parental leave entitlement

The entitlement to parental leave increased from 13 to 18 weeks March 2013.

Changes to collective consultation on redundancy

Since April 2013 employers putting 100 or more employees at risk of redundancy must start the consultation at least 45 days.

Changes to law for dismissals due to political opinion

Since 25th June 2013, if an employee is dismissed for holding a political opinion, they will be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal even if they do not have the 2 years service to bring a “standard” unfair dismissal complaint.

Changes to whistleblowing law

This law gives employees and workers protection against dismissal and victimisation if they blow the whistle on illegal or unsafe practices.

Since 25th June, worker can only rely on disclosures to bring a whistleblowing claim if, in the reasonable belief of the worker, the disclosure is made in the public interest. However, another change has been introduced which helps whistleblowers. It is no longer necessary for them to be acting in good faith when they blow the whistle.

Employers will also be liable if their employees victimise a colleague for whistleblowing. 

Due for implementation on 29th July:

Unfair dismissal awards to be reduced.

New regulations will be implemented to stop tribunals making awards that are higher than 52 weeks of the employees pay (currently capped at £74,200). This will apply to all dismissals after the date when the regulations come into force.

Compromise agreements to be renamed

Compromise agreements will be renamed settlement agreements but the purpose will remain the same.

Pre-termination negotiations

Employers will be able to have pre-termination negotiations, which are offers made or discussions held between the employer and employee before termination of employment with a view to employment being terminated on agreed terms. This allows an employer to have a conversation with an employee with the aim of terminating the employment under a settlement agreement without the employee being able to rely on details of the conversation as evidence in an unfair dismissal claim. 

The parties cannot make use of these provisions in claims for automatic unfair dismissal (such as whistleblowing) or discrimination. 

Tribunal fees

Tribunal fees will be introduced and for all but very simple claims, such as for wages and holiday pay, claimants will have to pay £250 to issue their claim and a further £950 for a hearing.

There is a system for those with low means to be exempt from the fees.

Proposed for the autumn

Employee shareholder status

The idea is to give employees a share of the business in exchange for them giving up certain employment rights. In exchange for giving employees shares worth £2,000 to £50,000, employers will be able to make employees contract out of the right to bring an unfair dismissal claim (but not an automatically unfair dismissal claim like whistleblowing), certain rights to request flexible working and training and a statutory redundancy payment and they will have to give longer notice to return early from maternity leave.

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