Hot spots

Employment tribunal forms
It was originally planned that it would be compulsory to use the new employment tribunal forms ETI and ET3 from 6 April 2005. However, this has now been delayed until 1 October 2005.

Jury service
The Employment Relations Act 2004 has introduced protection for employees who are doing, or have been summoned to do, jury service. There is now a new right not to suffer any detriment as a result of jury service.

New TUPE – draft regulations published
*The Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) has published a draft version of the new Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2005 for consultation, which will update the existing regulations to take account of the Acquired Rights Directive (No.2001/23).
The key points are:

  • A more comprehensive coverage of when TUPE applies in contracting-out situations to achieve greater certainty in practice for all parties concerned
  • Clarification of the effect of the regulations in relation to the key issues of transfer-related dismissals and changes to terms and conditions
  • The introduction of a requirement on the old employer (transferor) to notify the new employer (transferee) of the identities of the employees, and of all the associated rights, liabilities, etc, that will pass across in the transfer
  • Greater flexibility in the regulations’ application in certain cases where the transferor is insolvent, in line with the government’s policy to promote the ‘rescue culture’. For example, in relation to insolvent businesses, it may be possible to more easily change terms and conditions by collective agreement where this is necessary to ensure the survival of the undertaking.

The consultation closes on 7 June 2005. The new regulations are expected to come into force on 1 October 2005. 

Making equal pay reality?
Unison has identified five key steps which it considers will bring about equal pay:

  • Legislation requiring employers to carry out equal pay audits
  • Full training for all staff
  • A positive duty to be extended to the voluntary and private sectors
  • Allowing for class actions
  • A recognition that equal pay cannot be delivered out of existing budgets.

DTI’s consultation on maternity leave and flexible working
The DTI has published a consultation paper – Work and Families: choice and flexibility – on its proposals for longer statutory paid maternity leave, and an extension of parents’ right to request flexible working. The main proposals include:

  • Extending maternity pay and adoption pay from six months to nine months by April 2007, with the goal of a year’s paid leave by the end of the next Parliament
  • Introducing a new right for mothers to transfer a proportion of their maternity leave and pay to fathers to give more choice to parents in their child’s first year;
  • Considering extending the right to request flexible working hours to carers of adults and parents of older children.

The consultation is open until 25 May 2005.

Government strategy to increase race equality
The government has launched a plan to increase race equality and build a strong and cohesive society, called ‘Improving opportunity, strengthening society: the government’s strategy to increase race equality and community cohesion’.

The strategy is contained within a Public Service Agreement, which sets out a range of goals, including:

  • increasing the employment rate of ethnic minorities
  • promoting ethnic diversity in the workplace
  • reducing perceptions of racial discrimination by key institutions and in the labour market.

It also sets out plans for working more closely with the Commission for Racial Equality.

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