April 2010 employment law changes: seven things employers need to know

For more detailed guidance on the April employment law changes, including a free model policy on the right to make a request in relation to study or training, become a member of Personnel Today Plus. Sign up for free.

We answer employers’ questions on the changes to employment law in force from April 2010.

Legal changes include the replacement of sick notes with the new fit-note system; a new right to make a request in relation to study or training; and a new right for fathers to take up to 26 weeks’ additional paternity leave where their partner returns to work early from maternity leave.

 

Fit notes

From 6 April 2010, the existing system of sick notes is replaced by a fit-note system under which GPs can suggest adjustments to an employee’s role and/or workplace to enable them to return to work. The system was recommended in 2008 by Dame Carol Black, the national director for work and health, in her review of sickness absence.

For further information on fit notes, including a case study setting out an employers’ actions on receipt of a fit note, become a member of Personnel Today Plus. Sign up for free.

Requests in relation to study or training

As of 6 April 2010, employees have a legal right to make a request in relation to study or training – for example, time off work to study. The right is modelled on the procedure allowing parents and carers to make a request for flexible working. A refusal of a request must be on one or more grounds specified in the legislation.

For further information on the right to make a request in relation to training, including a free model policy helping you to communicate your organisation’s approach to requests in relation to study or training, become a member of Personnel Today Plus. Sign up for free.

Additional paternity leave

As of 6 April 2010, there is a new right to additional paternity leave allowing fathers to take up to 26 weeks’ paternity leave in the first year of a child’s life. This will, in effect, allow fathers to share maternity leave with the mother, who will be able to return to work after six months, leaving the father to take what is left of the 12 months’ maternity leave.

Data protection

From 6 April 2020, the Information Commissioner has the power to fine organisations up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Pensions

From 6 April 2010, the minimum pension age increases from 50 to 55 unless retirement is on the grounds of serious ill health, the member has a protected pension age, or the member started taking benefits before 6 April 2010. Meanwhile, the number of years needed to receive a full basic state pension reduces to 30. The state pension retirement age for women born on or after 6 April 1950 will rise to 65 between 2010 and 2020.

Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay

From 4 April 2010, the standard rates of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay will increase from £123.06 to £124.88. Statutory sick pay will continue at the rate of £79.15 per week.

Trade union blacklisting

Finally, don’t forget that regulations came into force on 2 March 2010 making it unlawful to dismiss employees or refuse employment on the grounds of trade union membership or activities.

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