Welcome to the September HR update – as usual we are heading for a number of changes effective from 1 October 2014, which are detailed below together with some other interesting developments:
1. Increased National Minimum Wage rates
• The new standard adult rate (for workers aged 21 and over) is £6.50 an hour (up 19p from £6.31).
• The youth development rate (for workers aged between 18 and 20) will increase to £5.13 an hour (up 10p from £5.03).
• The young workers rate (for workers aged under 18 but above the compulsory school age who are not apprentices) increases to £3.79 an hour (up 7p from £3.72).
• The new rate for apprentices is £2.73 an hour (up 5p from £2.68).
• The accommodation offset increases to £5.08 a day (up 17p from £4.91).
2. EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES: Reservists & Equal pay
New legislation giving protection for employees who are also members of the reserve forces is being introduced. This means that the qualifying period of service for unfair dismissal connected to membership of the Reserved Forces will be removed for dismissals after 1 October 2014 and there are various changes to the recovery of payments from the Ministry of Defence.
Additionally, the provisions of the Equality Act giving the tribunals the power to order employers in breach of equal pay law to carry out an equal pay order also come into force on 1 October 2014.
3. EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES & GUIDANCE: time off
With effect from 1 October 2014, expectant fathers and partners will have the right to take unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments with their pregnant partner. They will also be protected from any disadvantage or detriment in connection with exercising this right. The Department for Innovation & Skills has published a useful Employer’s guide to the new right, which you can access here
4. Obesity and the workplace
Earlier this summer a Danish case was referred to the European Court of Justice to consider whether EU legislation prohibits discrimination on the grounds of obesity in the same way as the other protected characteristics (such as religion or age) and whether obesity amounts to a form of disability under the Equal Treatment Directive.
The Advocate General of the EJC delivered his opinion in July this year, which rejected the suggestion that obesity is a protected characteristic, but concluded that severe disability could meet the definition of disability if it was preventing someone from taking a full part in their professional life. This opinion is likely to be influential on the ECJ and the final decision is expected later this year.
5. GUIDANCE: Workplace dress codes
ACAS have issued new guidance for employers about using dress codes in the workplace – see the details 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