UK: Recent and Forthcoming UK Employment Legislation

Last Updated: 11 August 2010
Article by Andrew Dekany

Date coming into force

Legislation

Overview

6 April 2010

Time off to train

The Employee Study & Training (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2010

The right to request time off for training entitles employees to apply for time off without pay to participate in training. This new right applies to organisations with 250 or more employees from 6 April 2010, and will be extended to apply to all organisations from April 2011.

6 April 2010

Paternity

Work and Families Act 2006

Additional Paternity Leave and Pay Regulations 2010

The planned extension of statutory maternity pay (SMP) from 39 to 52 weeks has been postponed indefinitely. However, the new scheme for additional paternity leave (APL) will affect parents of children born on or after 3 April 2011 (with matching rights for parents of adopted children).

APL will allow fathers or partners of mothers to take up the rest of maternity leave and pay if the mother returns to work early. Additional statutory paternity pay (ASPP) will be paid at the standard SMP rate. In practice, take up of APL may be higher where the mother earns more than the father or partner.

October 2010 (TBC)

Equality

Equality Act 2010

The core of the Equality Act 2010 is likely to come into force in October 2010 together with three statutory codes of practice. The Act will harmonise and strengthen UK discrimination law.

  • Disabled people – the Act restricts the circumstances in which job applicants can be asked questions about disability or health. The Act introduces "discrimination arising from disability" to replace disability related discrimination after the judgment in Lewisham v Malcolm (2008). The Act extends indirect discrimination to disability. However, reasonable adjustments will remain.
  • Carers – often women – who are caring for a disabled child or an older relative will be protected from direct discrimination by virtue of their link to that person.
  • The Act extends employer liability for third party harassment, e.g. by customers, which applies already to sexual harassment.
  • The Act enables employment tribunals to make recommendations in discrimination cases that benefit the wider workforce, not just the individual claimant, e.g. to retrain staff. Less clear are the views of the new Coalition Government on activating the more controversial provisions of the Equality Act.
  • The right to take under-representation into account on recruitment or promotion if two candidates are "as qualified" as each other, e.g. if one is a man and the other is a woman.
  • The power requiring employers to disclose the gender pay gap in their workforce.
  • The power to ban the practice of nationality-based pay differentials for seafarers.

1 October 2010

Minimum wage

National Minimum Wage Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 2010

  • The adult hourly rate will increase from £5.80 to £5.93.
  • The hourly rate for 18 to 21 year olds will increase from £4.83 to £4.92.
  • The hourly rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase from £3.57 to £3.64.

1 April 2011

Immigration

Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (TBC)

The first annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants will come into force. While the Tier 2 (intra-company transfer) route was unaffected by the interim limits introduced in July 2010, intra-company transfers are unlikely to be entirely exempted from the annual limit.

6 April 2011 (TBC)

Age

Regulations under the European Communities Act 1972 (TBC)

The Government will start phasing out the default retirement age, which allows employers to force employees to retire at 65. Transitional arrangements will apply for six months to cover retirements already in progress.

From 1 October 2011 ordinary unfair dismissal and age discrimination rules will apply if an employer wishes to dismiss or retire an older employee.

The Government is consulting on the impact which removal of the default retirement age could have on the provision of group insured benefits.

6 April 2011 (TBC)

Equality

Equality Act 2010

New protection from direct discrimination because of a combination of two protected characteristics (dual discrimination), e.g. because an employee is an elderly woman.

1 October 2011

Agency workers

Agency Workers Regulations 2010

After 12 weeks in the same role, temps placed through agencies will be entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions (including basic pay, overtime, shift allowances, bonuses and holiday) as if they had been recruited directly by the hirer to do the same job. The Coalition Government may review the 12 week qualifying period before implementation.

Contractual redundancy pay, occupational sick pay and occupational pensions are excluded from the equal treatment principle.

New arrangements which are "substantively different" will restart the clock. So will a six week gap in some cases. However, there are some "day one" rights, e.g. access to vacancies and collective facilities such as crèches.

October 2011 (TBC)

Bribery

Bribery Act 2010

The Bribery Act 2010 will require employers to have "adequate procedures" in place to prevent bribery. These may include an anti-bribery policy, staff training, rules on corporate entertainment and greater control over employees working in some countries abroad.

1 October 2012

Pensions

Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment)
Regulations 2010

Employers will be required to automatically enrol "job holders" into a qualifying work place pension scheme and to make minimum contributions. Phasing arrangements will apply.

TBC

The Coalition Government Programme

The Coalition: our programme for government

The Coalition Government plans:

  • To extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, not just those with a dependant child under 17 or an adult for whom they have caring responsibilities.
  • To speed up plans to raise the state pension age for men to 66.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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