Employment Law – Key Dates

April 2006

2 April
Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay
The standard rate of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increases from 106 to 108.85 per week.

6 April
Working time
Amendments to the 1998 Working Time Regulations will remove the exemption from limits on the maximum weekly working time in cases where a worker’s time was partly unmeasured, or self-determined, from the limits of the regulations.

Statutory sick pay
The standard rate of statutory sick pay will increase to 70.05 a week. From October, as part of the age discrimination laws, the government will remove the age limits on qualifying for statutory payments. At present, an employee must be under the age of 65 at the start of the period of incapacity to qualify.

New CRE code of practice
The Commission for Racial Equality’s revised Code of Practice comes into force. It outlines employers’ legal obligations under the Race Relations Act 1976. See www.cre.gov.uk for more details.

Health and safety
Changes to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 will exclude the right of third parties to seek damages from employees in breach of their duties under these regulations. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations, protecting employees from excessive noise in the workplace, will also come into force.

The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Consultation by Employers) Regulations 2006 mean that employers planning to make major changes to occupational and personal pension schemes must consult employees or their representatives beforehand.

Staff transfers
Updates to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) will provide greater coverage for contracted employees of service operations such as cleaning, catering, security and refuse collection.

Employers will also have to notify transferees of any employment liabilities they will be transferring.

In addition, the updates will give more flexibility in the transfer of insolvent businesses, and clarify the circumstances in which employers can make lawful, transfer-related dismissals.

Also in April

Unified tribunals system
The Employment Tribunal Service and Employment Appeal Tribunal will be merged into a single tribunal service. It will be known as the Tribunals Service.

October 2006

Paternity and adoption leave
Amendments to the Paternity Leave and Adoption Leave Regulations will extend the period of notice an employee is required to give of their intention to return to work, from 28 days to eight weeks. The amendments will also entitle the employer to make ‘reasonable contact’ with an employee while they are on adoption leave.

Employment equality
After a long consultation about the draft of the age discrimination legislation, it finally comes into force. The Age Discrimination Regulations prohibit direct and indirect age discrimination, and age-related victimisation and harassment. The regulations also set the default retirement age at 65 for both men and women, but employers will have to consider requests from staff who want to work beyond this age.

The Work and Families Bill
This Bill will include changes to the Maternity and Parental Leave Etc Regulations 1999, removing the additional length-of-service qualifying condition required to apply for additional maternity leave. It will also introduce amendments to the Flexible Working Regulations 1992, enabling carers who look after adults to apply for flexible working arrangements.

National Minimum Wage
Subject to a review by the Low Pay Commission, the main rate of the National Minimum Wage will rise from £5.05 to £5.35 an hour, while the development rate (for 18- to 21-year-olds) will rise from £4.25 to £4.45 an hour.

For more information on upcoming devlopments, go to www.personneltoday.com/timetable


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