Personnel Today and Employers’ Law have been reporting for some time on the key legislative developments coming into force on 6 April. Here we provide a round-up of the main changes, with weblinks to the relevant sources online.
Work and Families Act 2006
The maternity and adoption rules under the Work and Families Act 2006 are perhaps the most significant changes employers will need to get to grips with this year. Additional paternity leave and pay will also follow, but this is unlikely to be until at least April 2008 or even 2009 (when paid maternity leave will rise to 12 months).
The Work and Families Act 2006 and associated regulations apply to parents (natural or adoptive) of babies expected to be born or adopted after 1 April 2007.
The main effects are:
- Paid statutory maternity and adoption pay extended to 39 weeks (52 weeks by 2009)
- Additional Maternity Leave to be available to all employees who qualify
- Employer allowed to keep reasonable contact with the employee on leave, and permitting her to have ‘keeping in touch’ days
- Employer to be given more notice of an early return to work.
Maternity rights: legal Q&A
Maternity legislation amendments: stay in touch
Will this raft of new legislation really lead to better work-life balance?
Work and Families Act 2006
Department of Trade and Industry guidance
Policy clinic on Work and Families ActFor more on maternity rights and ‘keeping in touch days’ see the April 2007 issue of Employers’ Law.
Gender Equality Duty
HR departments in public organisations (including those providing public functions) face more work preparing for the new Gender Equality Duty. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 imposes the Gender Equality Duty on public authorities (in force 6 April), which have up to 30 April 2007 to produce, publish and implement gender equality schemes for a period of up to three years.
Equality Act: How are public sector employers tackling the issue of pay and conditions?
Q&As on the new duty
Guidance from the Equal Opportunities CommissionInformation and consultation
Medium-sized employers with 100 or more employees may receive requests for information and consultation arrangements under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 (ICE Regulations 2004), which will apply to them from 6 April. Smaller employers (with 50 or more employees) also need to appreciate that the regulations will apply to them from 6 April 2008.
Legal Q&A: informing and consulting
Meaning of ‘pre-existing agreement’ under ICE regulations: Moray Council v Stewart
Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004
Flexible working for carers
The Flexible Working (Eligibility, Complaints and Remedies) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 extend the right to request flexible working to carers.
Flexible working: Caring for the carers
Legal opinion: Jim Fitzpatrick, minister for employment relations at the Department of Trade and Industry, explains why flexible working for carers pays dividends
Consulting about pensions
The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Consultation by Employers and Miscellaneous Amendment) Regulations 2006 are extended to cover undertakings with 100 or more employees. The regulations introduce a statutory requirement for employers to consult with prospective and active members of pension schemes and their representatives before making major or significant changes to future pension arrangements.
Regulations will increase rates for statutory benefits such as statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay, which rise to £112.75 per week, and Statutory Sick Pay, the standard rate of which is increased to £70.05 per week.
The Order bringing the increases into force
To view more forthcoming employment law changes, see our legal timetable