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Looking ahead – employment law changes in 2014

What is coming up in 2014? Below is a brief look at some of the things to expect in the new year.

Tribunals

From 6 April 2014 the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 is bringing in some changes in relation to Tribunals. Some of the changes to look out for:

• Discrimination questionnaires will be removed

• ACAS mandatory early conciliation: Claimants may need to inform ACAS of their dispute before submitting a claim

• Employers who lose in the Tribunal, may be financially penalised when their breach “has one or more aggravating features” (at the Tribunal’s discretion). This will not apply in relation to any claim presented within 6 months of the 2013 Act being passed (or the commencement of the section in the Act to which this change is applied).

It is also expected in 2014 that Tribunals will be able to order equal pay audits where employers have been found to have breached equal pay.

Flexible Working

The Children and Families Bill 2012-2013 (currently going through the House of Lords) aims to, among other things, reform legislation relating to the right to request flexible working. The bill intends that flexible working rights will be afforded to all employees (not just parents or carers) with 26 weeks’ service. This reform is expected to come into force in spring 2014.

TUPE

The government has produced some draft regulations on proposed changes to TUPE which are intended to come into force in January 2014.

Some of the changes:

• For a service provision change, activities carried on after the change must be “activities which are fundamentally the same as the activities carried out previously”

• Transferors will need to provide employee liability information 28 days before transfer. This requirement will apply 3 months after the draft regulations come into force

• An ETO reason for dismissal entailing changes in the workforce will include a change to the place where employees are employed.

Sickness Absence

In Spring 2014 the government is to introduce a health and work assessment and advisory service, state funded, which is to provide:

• For employees after four weeks of sickness absence, an occupational health assessment; and

• Advice throughout the absence process.

Collective Redundancy Consultation

In January the Court of Appeal is hearing an appeal in the case of USDAW v Ethel Austin Ltd (better know as the “Woolworths case”). The EAT decided that the words “at one establishment” should not be considered during collective consultation for redundancy. Therefore, under the EAT’s ruling, where an employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees within a period of 90 days or less, the employer should consult about the dismissals even if the employees are not all at one establishment.

Overtime, Commission and Annual Leave

The case of Neal v Freightliner Ltd held that overtime payments should be taken into account when the four week minimum statutory holiday pay is calculated. Freightliner Ltd has applied for permission to appeal.

A recent opinion of Advocate-General Bot in ZJR Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd suggests that commission should also be taken into account when calculating holiday pay. The case will now proceed to the ECJ.

 

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Legal news, views, trends and tools for HR Professionals. Stay ahead. Go further