The summer holidays have been and gone again, in their usual blur of sun cream and raincoats and the pre-Christmas season fast approaches.
As usual, however, there are two things that we can rely upon to keep our chins up through the most trying of seasons – the clocks going back (this year on 26 October), for a blissful extra hour’s sleep, and more employment law changes than you can shake a wintery stick at…
The following changes are due with effect from 1 October 2014
Right to accompany partner to antenatal appointments
The first statutory change of the season is a small but interesting one.
Employees and eligible agency workers in a “qualifying relationship” will be entitled to accompany their pregnant partners to two antenatal appointments, for up to six and a half hours per appointment.
Whilst the right only extends to unpaid time off, it is accompanied by a protection from detriment and dismissal for exercising it. However, requests for time off can be refused where it is “reasonable” for the employer to do so. Look out for our future blog discussing this new right in more detail.
National Minimum Wage Increases
The yearly national minimum wage rate increase will take effect, bringing the standard adult rate to a nice round £6.50 per hour. All five new rates are set out below:
|Standard adult rate (21 years’ old and over)||£6.50 per hour|
|Youth development rate (18 to 20 years’ old inclusive)||£5.13 per hour|
|Young workers rate (under 18 but above compulsory school age and not apprentices||£3.79 per hour|
|Apprentices||£2.73 per hour|
|Accommodation Offset||£5.08 per day|
The Equality Act 2010 (Equal Pay Audits) Regulations 2014 come into force
Tribunals will have the power, and in some cases will be compelled, to order an Equal Pay Audit (an “audit”) where a Respondent loses an equal pay claim presented on or after 1 October 2014. Businesses with less than 10 full-time equivalent posts or which are newly set up will be exempt, but the rules governing these exemptions are far from simple! Additionally, an audit must not be ordered if an audit has been carried out in the preceding three years or where it is clear whether action is needed to avoid further breaches without one being undertaken. Similarly, an audit is not required where the breach found is an isolated incident nor, and rather vaguely, where “the disadvantages of an audit would outweigh its benefits”.
An audit, once completed and compliant, must be “published” and employers face a potential penalty of £5,000 for failing to comply with either the requirement to conduct an audit, the requirement to publish the completed audit, or the timescales set down by the tribunal for either. Interestingly, more than one penalty can be applied, although the tribunal must consider the Respondent’s means to pay when determining whether to impose a penalty and how much it ought to be. Full details of the requirements for audits and the complicated provisions for dealing with them, as well as our view on their potential impact will be the subject of a future blog.
The following changes are due with effect from 1 December 2014
Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2014 come into force (in part)
These regulations will amend the Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations (“PALR”) 2002 as a result of the forthcoming introduction of a new system of shared parental leave and pay. Accordingly, whilst not particularly exciting, the PALR 2002 will make the necessary amendments to:
• prevent employees from taking paternity leave once they have taken shared parental leave in respect of the same child; and
• amend the right to return following paternity or adoption leave to take account of the forthcoming shared parental leave regulations.
We remain on tenterhooks for the following decisions, expected or hoped for in the second half of 2014:
|Fulton and another v Bear Scotland Ltd ETS/4112472/12||EAT||Calculation of holiday pay under the Working Time Directive||Awaiting judgment||Unknown|
|R (on the application of Unison) v Lord Chancellor and another  EWHC 218 (Admin)||CA||Appeal against dismissal of UNISON’s challenge to the ET fees regime||Awaiting hearing||10/09/2014 – 10/12/2014|
|R (on the application of Compromise Agreements Ltd) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills||CA||Appeal against dismissal of a challenge to the cap on unfair dismissal compensation (on the grounds of indirect age discrimination)||Awaiting hearing||25/07/2014 – 24/10/2014|
|United States of America v Nolan  EWCA Civ 1223; United States of America v Nolan (No.2)  EWCA Civ 79||CA||Does the obligation to consult collectively arise when redundancies are a foreseeable consequence of a proposed business decision or only when that decision is made and redundancies are proposed?||Awaiting further hearing||TBC|
|USDAW v Ethel Austin Limited (in administration) and another UKEAT/0547/12 (the “Woolworths case”)||ECJ||Whether or not the EU Collective Redundancies Directive has direct effect and how it is to be constructed (including the meaning of the word “establishment”)||Awaiting hearing||TBC (Referred to ECJ on 22/01/2014)|
Blogs you might be interested in: