Happy New Year!
I hope you survived the storms and rain that have hit the country in the festive period. In this Alert we look ahead to the employment law changes due to come into force in 2014.
January – TUPE
The changes to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection
of Employment) Regulations 2006 are due to come into
force on 31 January. The key changes are:
- To confirm that activities carried out before and after a service provision change must be ‘essentially and fundamentally’ the same;
- To increase the period pre-transfer that employee liability information must be provided from 14 to 28 days;
- To allow a transferee to consult for collective redundancy purposes before the transfer where the transferor agrees;
- To allow post transfer variations in terms and conditions in employment where the employee’s contract of employment allows; and
- To allow businesses with less than ten employees to inform and consult directly with all affected employees where there are no representatives in place.
April – Flexible working
The right to request flexible working will be extended on 6 April to all employees with 26 weeks’ service. Further, the current statutory procedure for considering requests will be replaced by a duty on the employer to consider all requests in a reasonable manner. Employers will be able to refuse requests on business grounds. You will need to amend your Handbook to account for these changes.
April – Pre-claim conciliation
In addition to paying a fee, employees who wish to lodge an employment tribunal claim after 6 April will have to first undergo a period of ACAS conciliation.
April – financial penalties
Employers who are unsuccessful at tribunal after 6 April may find that they have to pay financial penalties in addition any tribunal award. The penalties will be between £100 and £5,000.
April – Statutory rates of pay
The rates of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay will all increase on 6 April 2014. We do not yet have the new rates.
Statutory sick pay will also increase. The Government plans to abolish the statutory sick pay record-keeping obligations and allow employers to keep records in a manner which best suits their organisation. A new sickness absence management programme is to be introduced at some point in 2014. The aim of this government-funded service will be to help people who have been off sick for four weeks or more get back to work.
April – Questionnaires
The questionnaire procedure that can be used by a claimant to gather information from their employer to prepare their discrimination claim is to be removed. This will no doubt be welcomed by employers who in the past have faced lengthy lists of time consuming questions.
October – Equal Pay Audits
The employment tribunals will gain the power to order an employer who is found to have breached the equal pay legislation to carry out an equal pay audit.
October – New National Minimum Wage rates
The NMW rates are reviewed each October. There is increasing pressure on the government to increase the rates this year.
And finally, the New Year is a good time to dust off your Handbook and check the policies are still up to date. If you would like us to give your Handbook a New Year health check, please contact one of the employment team.