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January 2014 Employment Law Update

07-01-2014

If you would like to discuss any employment issues please contact Julie Taylor on 01635 508181.

1.    EMPLOYMENT UPDATE: STATUTORY PAY INCREASES

The new rates for statutory sick pay and statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay effective from April 2014 have been announced.

2.    MINIMUM WAGE CHANGES

Employers who fail to pay their staff the national minimum wage could face higher maximum penalties of up to £20,000 and an increased financial penalty of up to 100% of the unpaid wages. The increases are expected to come into force in February 2014.

This follows the last years’ changes which made it easier to ‘name and shame’ employers who fail to pay the NMW – details in our September update here.

3.    EMPLOYMENT UPDATE: CHANGES TO TUPE

The new Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Regulations come into force on 31 January 2014.

In summary the changes include clarification of the test for “service provision changes”, permitting changes to terms included in collective agreements where more than 12 months has passed since the transfer and allowing micro businesses to inform and consult directly when there are already appropriate representatives.

The Government has published a guide to the amended TUPE regulations here.

4.    EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES – Shared parental leave

The Government has provided details of how the new shared parental leave system, expected to be introduced in April 2015, will work.

Under the proposals eligible working parents will be able to choose whether to be at home together or to work at different times and share the care of their child. Where shared leave is taken, both parents will have up to 20 “keeping in touch” days to assist them with their return to work and will have rights to return to the same job where up to 26 weeks leave is taken and if more leave is taken, they will have the right to return to the same job unless it is not reasonably practicable and in that case they have a right to a similar job.

You can see the guidance here.

5.    WARNING: Employers should look beyond the Occupational Health report

The Court of Appeal has determined that an employer was wrong to rely on an occupational health opinion that one of its employees was not disabled without applying any further thought to the situation.

This means that, while employers should seek an assessment from Occupational Health or other medical information, it is ultimately for the employer to make their own judgment as to whether or not an employee is disabled.

It was also highlighted that in obtaining advice from external medical advisers employers should not just ask general questions about whether an employee is disabled for the purposes of discrimination legislation and more specific questions, tailored to the particular circumstances need to be included. The answers should then enable an assessment of whether the Equality Act definition of disability is satisfied.

6.    GUIDANCE FROM ACAS

New guidance has been published by ACAS to assist with managing requests to breastfeed in the workplace. The guidance addresses the employers’ legal requirements also gives good practice examples. See the guide here.

Please note that these comments are intended to summarise some of the employment issues of the moment, not to provide detailed legal advice, so if you need assistance with any employment issues you may have please contact Julie Taylor on: 01635 508181 or  [email protected]


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