Small businesses in the dark over raft of new legislation

Awareness
of new legislation which comes into force this week affecting the UK’s
1.2 million employers is worryingly low, according to the Federation of Small
Businesses (FSB).

From
1 October, a new three step procedure will have to be followed in the event of
a dismissal, disciplinary action or grievance in the workplace.

But
the FSB is concerned that one of the most significant changes that employers
have faced in the past 10 years has not been accompanied by a large-scale
awareness campaign. In comparison, the new disability regulations that come
into effect on the same day have been widely promoted.

John
Walker, FSB policy chairman said: “The Government’s objectives for introducing
this legislation are sound. It is designed to reduce the potential for disputes
ending up at tribunal by ensuring discussions take place in the workplace
first.  

“But
as with so many well-intentioned initiatives the complexity of the regulations make them a potential
minefield for small firms. The new rules will have a wide-ranging impact on the
way employers do their business and we are concerned that this impact has been
under-estimated.”

New
rules coming into force include:

  Dispute resolution regulations, establishing
new statutory minimum dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures.


A revised version of the widely used Acas
code of practice for disciplinary and grievance procedures.


Amendments to the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act, providing a new
definition of direct discrimination and widening the duty to make reasonable
adjustments to workplaces for disabled people to include companies with fewer
than 15 people.


Changes to the rules of procedure in equal pay for work of equal value claims
in employment tribunals.


 The introduction of employment tribunal
rules recasting the rules of procedure, adding new rules for awarding costs,
fixing Acas conciliation
periods and introducing new claim and response forms.

  Changes to minimum wage regulations,
replacing the system of fair estimate agreements for workers paid per task
performed with a new system called ‘rated output work’.

  An increase to the adult hourly minimum wage
rate to £4.85, an increase to £4.10 per hour for 18 to 21-year-olds, and the
introduction of a £3 hourly rate for those aged 16 and 17.

The
CBI has labelled 1 October ‘red-tape day’, due to the huge raft of legislation
coming into force.

By Daniel Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

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