2011 employment law changes: six things employers need to know

Every year brings with it a raft of new regulations for the employer to negotiate. Whether it’s retirement, agency workers, bribery or equality legislation, this year presents new legislation relevant to all organisations. Read our guide to the six key updates to make sure you are ready for the year ahead.

WarningThis article is based on 2011 employment law changes 

This article is now out-of-date. A full list of the key employment law dates in 2012 is available here.

1. Abolition of the default retirement age

One of the biggest legal changes employers will have to contend with in 2011 is the abolition of the default retirement age (DRA). Transitional arrangements for the removal of the default retirement age in the UK are now in force, which mean that employers can no longer issue new notifications of retirement using the default retirement age.

If an employer wishes to operate a compulsory retirement age after the default retirement age is abolished, they will need to objectively justify it.

View our employer’s guide to the Default Retirement Age, where you can find all the latest news and guidance on the subject, to make sure you are ready for the changes.


2. Changes to maternity and paternity leave provisions

In April, there were two changes to maternity and paternity leave provisions.

Fathers of children with an expected week of birth beginning on or after 3 April 2011 are now allowed up to 26 weeks’ additional paternity leave in the first year of the child’s life if the mother has returned to work from maternity leave.

On the same date, the rates for statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increased from £124.88 to £128.73 per week.

3. Equal treatment for agency workers

From 1 October 2011, agency workers will be entitled to equal treatment on basic employment conditions, such as pay and holidays, after they have worked in a role for 12 weeks, under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010.

Agency workers will also be entitled to the same access to job vacancies and collective facilities, such as staff canteens, childcare facilities and transport services,  as permanent members of staff from the first day of their assignments.

Read our guide to the 5 things employers need to know about the Agency Workers Regulations.

4. Equality Act 2010

Since 6 April 2011, employers have been able to treat individuals with a protected characteristic more favourably during recruitment and promotion processes when faced with two candidates of equal merit, if the more favourable treatment is intended to address under-representation in the workforce.

The single public sector equality duty was also introduced in April and specific public sector equality duties which require public bodies to publish equality information and objectives came into force on 10 September 2011.

Find more resources on the Equality Act on XpertHR.

5. Bribery Act 2010: corporate offence introduced

On 1 July 2011, the Bribery Act 2010 came into force, which introduced a corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery by people working on behalf of the business.

An organisation can defend themselves against this offence if it can show that it had “adequate procedures” in place designed to prevent bribery.

The Bribery Act was originally due to come into force in April, but the Government delayed it to allow time for a review of the guidance.

Find all the latest news and guidance on the Bribery Act here.

6. Right to request flexible working extension

The extension of the right to request flexible working to parents of children under the age of 18 has been repealed and will not come in on 6 April 2011. It currently applies to parents of children under the age of 17, or 18 if the child is disabled.

The Government has also announced that it intends to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees and has consulted on the proposals. The Government will review the responses by December 2011.

For a full list of key employment law dates in 2011, read the XpertHR guide.

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