With brand new workplace legislation being introduced on a regular basis, keeping up to date with your employment law obligations and responsibilities can be difficult. The advent of the new Coalition Government brought with it even more change for employers to contend with and 2011 will see a substantial raft new responsibilities for employers.

It isn’t only the introduction of new legislation that employers need to be aware of – the Government’s decision to remove certain statutory procedures this year will also cause a headache. This year the default retirement age of 65, introduced in 2006, will be abolished together with the statutory procedure for retiring employees once they reach 65. This procedure provided a safe way for employers to dismiss older employees without the need to rely on one of the other existing potentially fair reasons for dismissal, for example, conduct, capability etc. Employers will no longer have this facility and will be forced to manage the performance of older employees whilst not subjecting them to age discrimination.

It is expected that the phasing out of the statutory retirement procedure will begin in April 2011 so it is still possible to retire employees once they reach 65 using the statutory procedure for the time being. However, time frames are tight and there is only a restricted window within which to manoeuvre. To avoid the situation where a retirement dismissal decision may have to be rescinded, you should take advice on each particular circumstance before issuing any new notices of retirement dismissal.

This year will see the first requests from employees for Additional Paternity Leave, which will be available to eligible employees where babies are born or matched for adoption on or after 3rd April 2011. Employees tend to be well aware of their entitlements when it comes to family friendly issues, so employers should be prepared to receive requests from fathers and mother’s partners towards the end of this year to take up to 6 months off work. Employees on Additional Paternity Leave may be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay but rules on eligibility are different than for employees on Ordinary Paternity Leave so it is critical to take advice on individual cases to determine whether payment is due or not.

For those of you who use agency workers, whether sporadically or regularly, the Advice Service may prove be an essential tool in 2011 because from October, agency workers will be entitled to equal rights in comparison to your permanent workers. Equal treatment extends only to certain aspects of the working relationship, and what’s more, will kick in at different stages of the agency worker’s assignment – either from day 1 or after 12 weeks. Failure to provide equal treatment can land the hiring organisation and the agency in trouble so adherence to the regulations is vital.

Other reasons to call the Advice Service in 2011 include the extension to the right to request flexible working, national minimum wage changes and the introduction of the Bribery Act, all of which may have an impact on your employment practices and procedures.

The Advice Service is available on 0844 892 2772 and will be able to assist you with all of your Employment Law and Health & Safety issues.