January 15, 2014
Some of the most hotly debated employment law issues from last year; including flexible working, workplace wellbeing and the contractual rights of employees look set to make more headlines this year, because 2014 is shaping up to be another year of significant change in UK employment law. While the timetable is subject to amendment, currently the Government is intending to introduce a number of revisions. The key employment law events and cases to watch out for in 2014 will include changes to TUPE, flexible working, flexible parental leave, employment tribunal procedures, redundancy consultation, Acas conciliation, calculation of holiday pay and post-employment victimisation; which we list below in the date order in which they are proposed.
31 January 2014
The Government’s changes to TUPE will be introduced from 31 January 2014 and they will include the following:
- “employee liability information” must be provided by a transferor 28 days prior to transfer, rather than 14 days as previously;
- Any terms and conditions negotiated under collective agreements may be re-negotiated from one year post transfer, provided the changes are no less favourable overall for employees; and
- A change of workplace location following a transfer will be included within an “ETO” reason, meaning employers can make redundancies caused by the relocation without becoming liable for automatically unfair dismissals.
- A service provision change can still be a TUPE transfer but only if the activies after the transfer are “fundamentally or essentially the same”.
31 March 2014
The freeze that exempts businesses with fewer than 10 employees from burdensome new regulations will be extended to businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
Pension Automatic Enrolment Extended
The Government will extend the period new employees have to auto-enrol in a pension scheme from four to six weeks in a bid to ease the burden on employers.
The rate of statutory maternity pay, ordinary and additional statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay increases.
The standard rate of statutory sick pay increases.
From April 2014 it will be necessary for all potential claimants to notify ACAS before lodging a claim with the Employment Tribunal. Acas are required to offer conciliation and if conciliation is unsuccessful within a set period the claimant can then proceed to lodge a Tribunal claim.
Right to request flexible working extended
The Government is planning to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees with more than 26 weeks’ service and to remove the current statutory procedure for considering requests. Employers will instead be required to consider all requests in a reasonable manner. The right to refuse a request on “business grounds” will be unaffected.
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 repeals s.138 of the Equality Act 2010, which sets out the procedure that enables an individual to obtain information from an employer. This process was often used to obtain evidence to establish if a claim could be brought about discrimination and provides for the information to be used as evidence in tribunal proceedings.
Employment Tribunals will be given the power to levy a financial penalty against employers that are in breach of employment rights.
A new Health and Work Service is to be introduced, offering free occupational health assistance to employees, employers and GPs, including an independent assessment of employees who have been off sick for four weeks.
In addition and yet to be confirmed is a tax exemption of up to £500 for employer-funded occupational health treatments paid for by employers for their employees.
The national minimum wage may rise, depending on economic conditions and the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission.
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 prescribes that employment tribunals are required to order an equal pay audit where the employer has breached the equal pay provisions under the Equality Act 2010, except in prescribed circumstances.
Date to be confirmed
National minimum wage legislation is consolidated into a single piece of legislation.
The Government proposes to reduce the period of time after completing their sentence that some offenders are required to declare their conviction to prospective employers.
Employees are exempted from the two-year qualifying period for making unfair dismissal claims where the reason or principal reason for dismissal is the employee’s reservist service.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, announced in Budget 2013 (on the HM Treasury website) the removal of the presumption of self-employment for limited liability partnership partners.
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 prescribes that the Government must add “caste” to the definition of “race” under the Equality Act 2010.
The Capital Requirements Directive IV requires financial institutions to set diversity targets for the composition of their board and to publish details of how they will achieve their targets.
Flexible parental leave
Under the new system parents will be able to choose how they share the care of their child during the first year after birth. Mothers will still take at least the initial two weeks following the birth after which they can end the maternity leave and the parents can opt to share the remaining leave as flexible parental leave.
Also under this new shared parental leave it is proposed that from 2015 the husband, civil partner or partner of the pregnant women will be allowed the right to unpaid time off to attend up to 2 ante-natal appointments.
Parental leave extended to 18
The right to unpaid Parental Leave will be extended to parents of any child under the age of 18 years.
Employer national insurance contributions for workers aged under 21 who earn up to £42,285 are abolished.