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Employment Law Update

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Changes coming into force from 1 October 2014

  • National Minimum Wage Increases:

Adult rate from £6.31 to £6.50/hour

Workers 18 - 20 years of age from £5.03 to £5.31/hour

Young Workers up to 18 years of age from £3.72 to £3.79

Apprentices from £2.68 to £2.73

  • Right for eligible employees and agency workers to accompany their pregnant partner to up to two ante natal appointments for up to 6 ½ hours per appointment.

There is no qualifying period of employment for this right for employees but agency workers must fulfil certain criteria to have the right to accompany including they must have completed their 12 week qualifying period.

The right will be to the pregnant woman's husband, civil partner or if they live with the pregnant woman and are in a relationship (whether hetrosexual or same sex) and relates to a partner of a pregnant woman who is not the father.

Such time off is unpaid.

The right also provides protection to both employees and agency workers from suffering a detriment as a result of requesting or taking such leave

Proposed changes late 2014/2015

  • New independent assessment and adviser service for employers to help manage sickness absence with the provision of state funded occupational health assessments where an employee has been off sick for four weeks or more. The service will also provide case management for employees with complex needs who require ongoing support to facilitate their return to work and advice on overcoming the barriers that prevent employees from returning to work. To be implemented on a phased basis in late 2014 and operational by May 2015.

Update on Zero hours position

The Government has previously announced that it would be tackling the abuse of zero hours contracts by introducing legislation banning exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts. This would mean making it unlawful for an employer to engage someone on a zero hours contract under which that individual could not work for anyone else.

The Government has acknowledged that a potential issue it faces is the definition of a zero hours contract. In the draft regulations, it is defined as a contract under which there is no certainty that work will be made available to the worker. The Government is conscious that businesses may seek to circumvent the legislation by providing individuals with contracts that guarantee only, say, 1 hour of work. It is also concerned that workers who work for someone else may not be offered any work or as many work opportunities.

The Government has therefore opened a consultation about the potential loopholes employers may use to avoid the proposed exclusivity ban and how those loopholes could be dealt with. The consultation will close on 3 November 2014.

The Government has also announced plans to develop sector-specific codes of practice on the fair use of zero hours contracts which will include recommended best practice.

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.
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