UK: New Employment-Related Legislation

Last Updated: 1 June 2007

Article by Robert Hill and Nick Dent

Summarised below are the key employment law changes which came into force in April 2007:

1 April

  • The rate of statutory paternity pay, maternity allowance, statutory adoption pay and the basic rate of statutory maternity pay (SMP) increases from £108.85 to £112.75 per week.
  • The changes to maternity and adoption provisions under the Maternity and Parental Leave etc. and Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2006, which came into force in October 2006, apply where the expected week of childbirth or placement for adoption falls on or after 1 April. Employees are now entitled to one year’s statutory maternity leave, regardless of length of service; SMP is payable for 39 weeks, and the notification requirements for returning to work early have been extended from 28 days to eight weeks.

6 April

  • Statutory sick pay increases from £70.05 to £72.55 a week.
  • The Flexible Working (Eligibility, Complaints and Remedies) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 extend the right to request flexible working to ‘carers’ of adults.
  • The Employment Equality (Age) (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2007 provide that a redundancy dismissal is unfair if the reason for selection is an employee exercising, or seeking to exercise, his right to be accompanied, or to accompany another, at a meeting to request working beyond the intended date of retirement. The Regulations also exempt age discrimination complaints from a fixed 13 week conciliation period, and provide that age discrimination claims are to be treated like other discrimination claims under the Dispute Resolution Regulations.
  • Under the Equality Act 2006, all public authorities must comply with the ‘gender equality duty’: to promote equality for women and men, and to eliminate discrimination and sexual harassment.
  • The Information and Consultation Regulations 2004, which require employers to institute a formal information and consultation procedure, will apply to all companies with 100 or more employees. (These Regulations previously applied to companies with at least 150 employees.)
  • The Occupational Pension Schemes Regulations 2006, which require employers to undertake consultation before making changes to occupational and personal pension schemes, apply to all companies with 100 or more employees. (These Regulations previously applied to companies with at least 150 employees.)
  • The Employment Act 2002 (Amendment of Schedules 3, 4 and 5) Order 2006 extends the remit of the statutory dispute resolution procedures to cover complaints relating to:
  • employees of European Public Limited Liability Companies;
  • Information and Consultation representatives and employees; and
  • Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes Representatives.

30 April

  • The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services.
  • The Equality Act 2006: the definition of religion or belief in discrimination legislation is extended to cover being of no religion or belief. In addition, religious discrimination in the provision of goods and services is outlawed.
  • Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (Public Authorities) (Statutory Duties) Order 2006, certain listed public authorities are required to publish a gender equality scheme by this date.

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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