Employment Law Update – April 2014

TUPE Regulations – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)

The government has announced a number of changes to TUPE legislation – the implementation dates have been pushed back but the majority of changes will be in force by May 2014 (with some already applying now).  There was thought that the government would repeal the transferor’s obligation to provide ‘employee liability information’ but this hasn’t happened – instead the time frame has been extended from 14 days to 28 days before the transfer.  There are a number of other key things to consider, so if you are in a position where TUPE may apply (either way – i.e. TUPE-ing in or out), please seek further information.

Shared Parental Leave

The government’s launch date for the above legislation comes into force on 1st October 2014, but applies to babies born (or children placed with adoption) on or after 5th April 2015.  There will also be information in the legislation clarifying the rights in surrogacy situations – more detailed information on this subject will follow nearer the time.

Which payments are included?

There is currently some debate over the payments that should be considered when looking at holiday pay and other similar payments (cases Lock v British Gas, Neal v Freightliner).  Some claims have been made that ‘non basic pay’ – such as commission payments, overtime and shift premiums should be taken into account in the calculations.  This is being appealed and we are still awaiting decisions and final clarification, but is something that employers ought to bear in mind.

The Right to Request Flexible Working

The extension to the scope of this legislation was planned to be applicable from April 2014, but has now been pushed back to June 2014.  This will give all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service the right to request flexible working – currently it is just available to those with children aged 16 or under, or those caring for an adult.  Please make sure your policies reflect these changes.

National Minimum Wage – Increases in Financial Penalties

The fines have increased from a maximum of £5000 to £20000 – there are plans to increase this further making the £20000 limit apply to each underpaid worker, so this could become very costly for employers!

Statutory Discrimination Questionnaire

April 2014 will see the abolition of the statutory discrimination questionnaire – this will be replaced by non-statutory guidance.  If you do have a request from an employee regarding this, it would be sensible to seek further advice.

Tribunal Fees

Despite Unison challenging the lawfulness of bringing fees to the tribunal system, the fee system is still in place – and is likely to be for the foreseeable future.  In addition, tribunals have been given the right to award additional penalties for employers where ‘aggravating features’ apply.  These additional awards are capped at £5000 and are paid to the government, not the claimant.

Early Conciliation

Rules of procedure have been published and will come into force in April 2014 requiring prospective claimants to contact ACAS before issuing and Employment Tribunal Claim.

Health & Work Assessment & Advisory Service

The government plans to introduce the above service which is aiming to help provide information regarding employees and sickness absence,  The current launch date is planned to be sometime before the end of 2014, but details are a bit sketchy as yet – watch this space for more information!

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