Employment Law: Up and coming changes

Peninsula Team

November 11 2010

2010 was a busy year in terms of new and amended employment legislation. Outlined below are some of the major legislative developments currently expected in Great Britain during 2011. National Minimum Wage In a move that will affect only a limited number of businesses across the country, mainly employment businesses and umbrella companies, the Government has amended the National Minimum Wage Regulations in relation to travel and subsistence schemes to and from a temporary workplace. Payments in relation to such schemes will no longer be able to count towards minimum wage pay from 1st January 2011. Subject to confirmation, some or all of the National Minimum Wage rates will increase as usual in October 2011. Right to request flexible working Parents of children under the age of 18 will be entitled to request flexible working from April 2011. No specific date has yet been announced. The Government has also announced intentions to open up the right to request to all employees, regardless of whether they have children or not. However, this is not likely to take place until 2012. Bribery Act From April 2011, the Bribery Act 2010 will introduce a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by individuals working on behalf of a business. Retirement After a review of the statutory retirement procedure earlier this year, the Government announced that the default retirement age (DRA) was to be phased out. At the time of writing, there had been no firm decision on exactly how the default retirement age will be phased out, but proposals include a start date of 6th April 2011: • From 6th April 2011, employers will not be able to issue any new notifications for compulsory retirement using the DRA procedure. • Between 6th April 2011 and 1st October 2011, only people who were notified before 6th April 2011, and whose retirement date is before 1st October 2011 can be compulsorily retired using the DRA. • From 1st October 2011, employers will not be able to use the DRA to compulsorily retire employees; if they wish to implement retirement ages they will have to be able to demonstrate these are objectively justified. Additional Paternity Leave Where babies are due on or after 3rd April 2011, mothers will be able to forfeit up to 6 months of their maternity leave and transfer it to the father of the baby, or the mother’s partner in same sex relationships. ‘Additional paternity leave’ (APL) allows fathers or mother’s partners who meet certain conditions to take a maximum of 6 months’ leave. The leave must be taken in one continuous block, and is in addition to the current entitlement to 2 weeks’ paternity leave. APL will be paid at the usual rate of Statutory Paternity Pay for the length of the leave that was outstanding from the mother’s leave. Agency workers With effect from 1st October 2011, agency workers will be entitled to the same treatment as permanent workers in relation to pay and working time after 12 weeks in a given assignment. Additionally, some rights will be available to agency workers from day 1 of the assignment, such as the right to be informed of vacancies in the hirer’s business, and access to collective facilities e.g. canteen, childcare facilities. If you want further information on the changes discussed or are wondering how they may affect your business call our Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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