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Hewett Legal Corner - October 2014 #20

Several new employment law changes came into force on 1 October 2014:

1. National Minimum Wage

The NMW rates have now increased as follows:
Standard adult rate - £6.50
Development rate – £5.13
Young Workers Rate - £3.79
Apprenticeship rate - £2.73

2. Time off to accompany partner to antenatal appointments
Employees and agency workers now have the right to take time off to accompany a pregnant woman with whom they have a “qualifying relationship” to up to two antenatal appointments. Each appointment may last up to a maximum of six and a half hours

An employer may put a procedure in place to manage requests for time off to accompany a woman to an antenatal appointment. An employer may refuse a request if it is reasonable to refuse in the circumstances (this might cover a situation where an employee fails to give notice that he is attending an appointment)
Time off is unpaid unless the employee’s contract of employment or the employer’s relevant policy provide otherwise.

An employee or agency worker who is unreasonably refused time off to attend an antenatal appointment may bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal. If successful, the compensation payable is twice the hourly rate for the period when the employee or agency worker would have been entitled to be absent had the employer or agency granted the time off.

3. Power to order equal pay audits
Under Regulations made under the Equality Act 2010, Employment Tribunals now have the power to order employers found to have been in breach of equal pay law to carry out equal pay audits in certain circumstances. Micro businesses employing less than 10 employees will be exempt.

An equal pay audit must:
(a) include relevant gender pay information related to the descriptions of employees specified by the Employment Tribunal;
(b) identify differences in pay between men and women and the reasons for the differences
(c) include the reasons for any equal pay breach; and
(d) set out the employer’s plans to avoid future breaches

4. Reserve Forces refor
It is a criminal offence for an employer to dismiss a reservist because they are called out or likely to be called out. The 2 year qualifying period for unfair dismissal has now been removed where a dismissal is connected with the employee’s membership of the Reserve Forces.

There is also a new payment scheme which entitles small and medium size employers to an additional monthly payment of £500 for each full month that a reservist is absent from work. This payment is in addition to the award of up to £110 per day which employers can claim in relation to employing a replacement.

This edition of Hewett's Legal Corner is courtesy of ... Claire Cole from Hallmark Hulme Solicitors


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