Employment law: the 23 legal changes HR needs to know

Employment tribunals


1. There will be procedural changes to tribunal practice, including in relation to default judgments, electronic communications, withdrawal of proceedings, and Stage 1 equal value hearings.
6 April 2009: The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2008


2. The statutory procedures are being replaced by a new Acas code of practice, lifting the current legal requirement to deal with discipline and grievance issues in a fixed way. The Employment Act 2008 (Commencement No.1 and Transitional Provisions and Savings) Order 2008 also returns the law on unfair dismissal to the position prior to the dispute resolution procedures coming into force in October 2004.
6 April 2009: Revised Acas Discipline and Grievance Code of Practice


3. Instead, tribunals can increase or decrease any award made by up to 25% if they feel the code has been unreasonably breached.
6 April 2009, Revised Acas Discipline and Grievance Code of Practice



4. Holiday pay is added to the list of jurisdictions that an employment tribunal chairman can hear alone.
6 April 2009, Employment Tribunals Act 1996 (Tribunal Composition) Order 2009


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5. As a result of the repeal of the statutory dispute resolution procedures, the transferor is required to provide information in circumstances where the new Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures applies, rather than where the statutory dispute resolution procedures apply.
6 April 2009, Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Regulations 2009


Holiday


7. Statutory holiday entitlement increases from 24 to 28 days for a full-time worker.
1 April 2009, The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007


8. Employers who have been paying for four days’ statutory holiday in lieu of the four days for full-time workers added to the entitlement will no longer be able to do so.
1 April 2009, The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007


9. A week’s leave should allow workers to be away from work for a week. It should be the same amount of time as the working week: if a worker does a five-day week, they are entitled to 24 days’ leave. If the worker does a three-day week, the entitlement is 14.4 days’ leave.
1 April 2009, The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007


10. The leave entitlement under the regulations is not additional to bank holidays. There is no statutory right to take bank holidays off. Therefore, a worker who is not otherwise paid in respect of bank holidays may take bank holidays as part of their annual leave entitlement in order to receive payment for these holidays.
1 April 2009, The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007


11. Workers must give the employer notice that they want to take leave.
1 April 2009, The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007


12. Employers can set the times that workers take their leave – for example, a Christmas shutdown.
1 April 2009, The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007


13. If a worker’s employment ends, they have a right to be paid for the leave time due and not taken.
1 April 2009, The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007


14. Employers must check:




  • Who is entitled to annual leave


  •  How much leave workers currently receive and whether it is enough


  • Whether workers receive a week’s pay for each week of leave.

1 April 2009, The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007


Maternity, paternity and adoption pay


15. The standard rate of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay increases from £117.18 to £123.06.
5 April 2009. Information on the new rates can be viewed on the HM Revenue and Customs website.


Statutory sick pay


16. Statutory sick pay increases from £75.40 to £79.15.
6 April 2009. Information on the new rate can be viewed on the HM Revenue and Customs website.


Directors’ remuneration disclosure requirements


17. New directors’ remuneration disclosure requirements come into force.
6 April 2009, The Large and Medium-sized Companies and Groups (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2008


Immigration


18. Tier four of the new points-based immigration system, covering students, will be implemented.
31 March 2009. More details are available on the UK Border Agency website.


Flexible working


19. The right to request flexible working will be extended to parents of children up to the age of 16.
31 March 2009.


Extension of right to time off for public duties


20. The right to time off for employees serving in a wider range of civic roles will be extended under section 50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. This is likely to cover roles such as members of probation boards, members of court boards, and youth offender panel members. It is also proposed that roles in the housing sector, such as board members of registered social landlords and tenant management organisations, should be covered by time off entitlements.
6 April 2009, Employment Rights Act 1996


Minimum wage


21. Increased penalties for failure to pay the national minimum wage will be introduced.
6 April 2009, The Employment Act 2008


Trade union membership


22. Section 19 of the Employment Act 2008 allows a trade union to expel or exclude an individual on the basis of their membership or former membership of a political party. The changes to the rules on trade union membership arise from a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that a trade union could expel a member of the British National Party.
6 April 2009, The Employment Act 2008


Health and safety


23. The Health and Safety Information for Employees (Amendment) Regulations 2009 allow the Health and Safety Executive to approve and publish new health and safety law posters and leaflets that do not require the addition or updating of information by businesses displaying the poster or providing the leaflet as required by the regulations.
6 April 2009, Health and Safety Information for Employees (Amendment) Regulations 2009


 

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