The Year to date in Employment Law
Year to date employment law developments
Listed below are a number of changes to employment law that have taken place or are scheduled to be implemented in the coming months.
• Holiday pay – regulations came into force placing a two year limit on claims for unfair deduction from wages claims in respect of holiday pay – applies to claims presented on or after 1 July 2015. The regulations also implicitly state that the right to paid holiday is not incorporated as a term in employment contracts.
• Employment agencies and employment businesses in Great Britain are banned from advertising jobs exclusively in other European Economic Area countries without advertising them at home – from 5 January.
• Section 56 of the Data Protection Act (DPA) was implemented on 10 March, following its delay from December 2014. It is now an offence for an employer to require an employee or job applicant to use their DPA subject access rights to produce a copy of their criminal record.
• The new shared parental leave scheme is now in place for parents whose babies were due on or after 5 April 2015, or who had children placed for adoption on or after that date. The shared parental leave rate from 5 April is £139.58, in line with other maternity, paternity and adoption.
• Adoption rights – the 26 week qualifying period for adoption leave was removed and statutory adoption pay was brought in to line with statutory maternity pay; adopters can take paid time off for some ‘adoption appointments’ – from 5 April.
• The right to take parental leave was extended to parents of any child under the age of 18 – from 5 April.
• The Pension Schemes Act 2015 enables people with a defined contribution pension to access their pension more flexibly – from 5 April.
• The basic rates of maternity allowance and statutory maternity pay (SMP), statutory paternity pay (SPP) and statutory adoption pay (SAP) all increased from £138.18 to £139.58 – from 6 April.
• The rate of statutory sick pay (SPP) increased from £87.55 to £88.45 – from 6 April.
• Increased limits on employment tribunal awards came into force on 6 April:
o the maximum compensatory award rose from £76,574 to £78,335
o the limit on a ‘week’s pay’ rose from £464 to £475.
• National Minimum Wage – Regulations to consolidate the legislation came into force on 6 April.
• A ban on exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts came into force on 26 May.
• A new regime for English apprenticeships came into force on 26 May.
• A maximum £20,000 penalty for underpaying the national minimum wage, on a per worker basis rather than per notice, came into force on 26 May.
• Following the decision in the Bear Scotland case, a two-year limitation came into effect preventing large back-dated claims for holiday pay arrears – from 1 July.
• National Minimum Wage rates – will increase from 1 October: the standard adult rate to £6.70, the development rate for those aged 18-20 to £5.30, the young workers rate for those aged 16-17 to £3.87, and the apprentice rate to £3.30.
• Changes to the Equality Act 2010 to remove the power of employment tribunals to issue wider recommendations in successful discrimination cases – will come into force from 1 October.
Employment-related Acts and Bills
The new Government has announced there will be Bills on the following employment-related topics introduced in the new Parliamentary session: immigration, trade unions, further welfare reforms and moves to achieve full employment.
• The Trade Union Bill was introduced to Parliament on 15 July 2015. It will reform strike laws in Great Britain.
• The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill became an Act on 26 March 2015. It contains provisions to improve gender pay gap reporting under the Equality Act 2010, introduce annual reporting on whistleblowing disclosures, limit employment tribunal postponements and penalise employers who do not pay an employment tribunal award – these provisions have yet to come into force. Provisions to prevent use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts and setting a maximum penalty for underpaying the national minimum wage on a per worker basis rather than per notice came into force in late May 2015.
If you would like to discuss how any of these topics may impact your business, please call Gillian or Sam on 01892 853084.