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January 2015 Employment Law Update

07-01-2015

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

1. Draft National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015

Since the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 were introduced, they have been amended over twenty times. As part of the Red Tape Challenge, the Government concluded a single set of Regulations were needed. Therefore, the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 will come into force on 6 April 2015 in an attempt to clarify and consolidate the current rules.

The new regulations are not intended to make substantive changes, but be more user friendly with seven key parts. There are more individual regulations focusing on specific issues, making it easier for employees and employers to find and implement. Calculations are also clearer, for example using a formula to work out an employee’s hourly rate as oppose to a description. Some areas such as sleeping time and rest breaks remain ambiguous, however, and it is hoped that additional government guidance will address these issues.

Overall, the new National Minimum Wage (Consolidation) Regulations should be a step in the right direction towards making this area clearer and more workable. Watch this space.

2. National Minimum Wage: Offenders

Earlier this month the government named and shamed 37 businesses that have failed to pay the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to their employees. Between them the companies owed £177,000 in underpayments and were charged £51,000 in penalties. The list even includes a couple of local businesses.

The release of the names of these offending businesses adds to the 55 names that have been released since the ‘naming regime’ came into force in October 2013, and £110,000 has been paid out in penalties so far.

You can find out more here.

3. Amendments to tribunal rules on postponements

In the last two years, over 65,000 tribunal hearings have been postponed. The Government is seeking to amend the procedural rules of employment tribunals in an attempt to reduce the length and cost of tribunal proceedings, as published in its Consultation on Amendments to Employment Tribunal Postponement Procedures in January 2015.

Currently, the Secretary of State has a general power to make regulations as to the employment tribunal procedure. The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014-2015 seeks to amend this by giving the Secretary of State the power to introduce regulations limiting the number of hearing postponements available in a case, to two, other than in exceptional circumstances. The consultation proposes that a deadline of seven days before a hearing should also be imposed aside from in exceptional circumstances. Exemptions from the new rules would include circumstances whereby both parties agree that there is a need for postponement or where the tribunal consider that a postponement is required due to circumstances outside a party’s control.

The consultation closes on 12 March 2015. It is intended that the new rules will be implemented once the Bill has received Royal Assent.

4. GUIDANCE: Data Protection

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published updated guidance for those responsible for managing data and data protection issues. It provides guidance and examples to understand fair and lawful processing and other key requirements of the legislation. You can access 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]

Follow Julie on Twitter: @JulieT_GL


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