Every October brings new employment law
changes, and this year has certainly been no different. The first
six points highlight some
of the key changes followed by a few other issues that have made
the headlines recently.
1. Modern slavery statements
Slavery may have been abolished in the 19th century, but modern
slavery exists in the form of forced or compulsory labour, servitude
trafficking. From October 2015, employers with an annual turnover
of £36 million or more will have to publish a modern slavery
statement each year. These employers must state the steps they
have taken to prevent modern slavery existing in any part of their
or supply chain.
2. Sikh safety helmet exemption extended to all
The exemption of turban-wearing Sikhs from wearing a safety helmet
on construction sites is to be extended to all workplaces from
1 October 2015. This employment
law change means that Sikhs will be able to wear a turban, and not a safety
helmet, in workplaces like warehouses, factories and vehicles involved
There are some limited cases where Sikh workers will still need
to wear head protection, but these are mainly restricted to those
working in emergency response
or members of the armed forces.
3. National minimum wage increases
The government has announced that from October 2015 the national
minimum wage rates increased by 3% for workers aged 18 and over
and 2% for 16-17 year olds.
The largest increase this year was to the apprentice rate, which was by 21%.
From 1 October 2015 the minimum wage rates are as follows:
Workers aged 21 and over, the rate increased by 20p to £6.70 an hour
The rate for 18 to 20 year olds increased by 17p to £5.30 an hour
The rate for 16 to 17 year olds increased by 8p to £3.87 an hour
Apprentices (aged 16 -18 and those aged 19 or over in their first year) increased
by 57p to £3.30 per hour.
The government has also announced that from
April 2016, a new minimum wage of £7.20
per hour will be introduced for all working people aged 25 and over.
living wage” (NLW) will be compulsory and the Low Pay Commission
(LPC) will recommend future rises, with the Government aiming for it
to reach £9
an hour by 2020. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has estimated
that the cost to business will amount to 1% of profits. To offset that
cost, the Government
is cutting corporation tax to 19% in 2017 and 18% in 2020. Small firms
will also benefit from a cut in their national insurance contributions.
new Employment Allowance will be increased by 50% to £3,000.
Tribunals lose power to make wider recommendations
From 1 October, tribunals no longer have any power to make recommendations
that go beyond an employee’s own circumstances in a discrimination
claim. In practice, the power to make recommendations for the benefit
of a wider workforce
was rarely used.
5. Ban on smoking in cars with children
Under the smoke-free legislation, company vehicles must be smoke
free unless the vehicle is mainly used for an employee’s
private purposes. From 1 October, drivers of private cars in
England are banned from smoking in
them if they are
carrying children under 18 as passengers. This move follows a similar
ban in Wales, with Scotland also in the process of introducing
to consider revising their smoking and company car policies, as employees
using a company car for family purposes will be affected by the new
6. Referrals under the new Fit for Work service
The Government’s new Fit for Work service (FFW) should be
fully operational by autumn. The aim of the service is to help
employees return to work following
a sickness absence. Occupational health advice can be obtained
through the FFW website (http://fitforwork.org) and telephone helpline.
can also refer
an employee for a free occupational health assessment when the
employee has been absent from work for at least four weeks.
Media has reported that Acas has dealt with more than 83,000 cases
in the 12 months since early conciliation was introduced. Of these,
employees have opted for early conciliation and their employers
Its statistics show that 48% of claimants who used early conciliation,
either reached a formal settlement or were otherwise helped by
Acas to avoid going
to tribunal. In April 2014, the law changed so that anyone wishing
to launch a tribunal
claim would have to notify Acas first to see if the dispute could
Once a notification is made to Acas, the legal time
limit within which a claimant can bring a tribunal claim is extended
to discuss options and try to reach an agreement, although neither
party has to accept the offer of conciliation.
In the nine months between April and December 2014, 63% did not
proceed to a tribunal claim, while a further 15% resulted in a
a COT3. Just over one-fifth (22%) progressed to a tribunal claim.
Of those who could not settle their case directly through early
conciliation but did not proceed with a claim, just over a quarter
said this was
because tribunal fees put them off.
Tribunal fees were introduced
in July 2013, after which claimants must pay an issue fee of between £160
and £250 when submitting a claim and a
hearing fee of £250 to £950 when the claim is listed
for a final hearing. The number of claims going to tribunal has
Working grandparents to be able to share parental leave
The Chancellor announced at the Conservative Party Conference in
October that he will extend shared parental leave and pay to working
changes will increase flexibility and choice in parental leave
arrangements and support working parents with the costs of childcare
first year of
a child’s life. The government will bring forward legislation
to enable this change, with the aim of implementing the policy
by 2018. The government
will consult on the details in the first half of next year. The
plan will involve extending the current system of shared parental
leave to cover grandparents,
as well as the child’s mother and father. The total of 50
weeks of leave will not be extended, but the plan is aimed at giving
greater flexibility to
families in the first year of a child’s life. Parents will
be able to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of
parental leave pay, currently £139.58
a week or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower, with
a nominated working grandparent.
The government states that they
recognise the crucial role that
working grandparents play in providing childcare and supporting
that nearly 2 million grandparents have given up work, reduced
their hours or have taken time off work to help families who cannot
costs. Evidence shows more than half of mothers rely on grandparents
they first go back to work after maternity leave, and over 60 per
cent of working grandparents with grandchildren aged less than
total, some seven million grandparents are involved in childcare.
The new system will also provide flexibility in working arrangements
fear of losing their job.
Firms sign up to ‘name-blind CVs’ to
A range of private and public sector employers have signed up to
a government backed pledge to operate recruitment on a ‘name
blind’ basis to address
discrimination. The scheme is aimed at ending what the government
calls “disgraceful” discrimination – where
recruiters reject CVs based purely on reading the names of applicants.
The Civil Service has committed to introducing name-blind recruitment
for all roles below
Senior Civil Service level. Other top graduate recruiters like
KPMG, HSBC, Deloitte, Virgin Money, BBC, NHS, learndirect and local
like Teach First by committing to deliver name-blind applications
for all graduate and apprenticeship level roles.
The Chartered Institute
of Personnel and Development (CIPD) will
be promoting the benefits of name-blind recruitment and will be
working towards embedding
this as standard through its training and development courses.
Diversity experts anticipate that the introduction of name-blind
processes and school
and university-blind interviews will help prevent unconscious bias
and ensure that job offers are made on the basis of potential – not
ethnicity, gender or past personal circumstance.”
If you need any further information
on any of the above points or any other aspects regarding the employment
of staff, please
hesitate to give either Jane or Jannette a call.
Disclaimer. The purpose of this briefing
is to give a brief introduction to current topical issues on
employment law. Although
has gone into providing accurate, relevant and up to date information,
it must not be relied upon as giving sufficient advice in any
specific case. Professional advice should always be taken,
before any decision
is reached on matters relating to the employment of staff and