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Hewett’s Legal Corner- January 2014 #2

 
 

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES


Zero Hours Contracts

The government launched a consultation on 19th December 2013 on the problems which have been identified around the use of Zero Hours Contracts. The consultation is seeking a range of views on proposals including the ban of the use of exclusivity clauses in Zero Hours Contracts that offer no guarantee work and new advice and guidance around the use of Zero Hours Contracts for both employers and employees.
The consultation will end on 13th March 2014 and therefore an update will be provided on this point later this year.

Increased Penalty for Failure to Pay National Minimum Wage

There is currently a financial penalty calculated as 50% of the total underpayment for workers underpaid for current employers who break the law on National Minimum Wage. The government will increase the financial penalty percentage from 50% to 100% of the unpaid wages owed to workers. The maximum penalty will increase from £5,000 to £20,000.

This penalty increase is part of the crackdown by the government on employers who break the law. Regulations introducing these new limits are expected to be in force in February 2014 and therefore employers should be aware of the national minimum wage and should ensure that all employees are being paid correctly. Employers with concerns in relation to pay should contact Sally Morris (details below).

TUPE Guidance

There are a number of changes to TUPE being made by the Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 which will come into force on 31st January 2014.

As a result of these changes, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published new guidance which has updated its previous guidance to account for the changes in the law since it was last published in 2009. Employers wishing to seek further advice on the changes due to come into force shortly should contact Sally Morris (details below).

Upcoming Employment Changes for 2014

1. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA 2013) will bring in compulsory pre-claim ACAS Conciliation on 06th April 2014. This means that Claimants will have to submit details of their dispute to ACAS in the first instance and before bringing a claim. They will be offered pre-claim early conciliation for a period of 1 month. Only if this is unsuccessful or if this is refused by either party will the Claimant be able to proceed with bringing a claim to the Tribunal. As you may be aware, there is a limitation period of 3 months for a claim to be bought by a Claimant following the termination of employment. If the parties enter into early pre-claim conciliation, this will stop the clock on the limitation period for these purposes.

2. The ERRA 2013 will abolish discrimination questionnaires and this is due to come into force on 06th April 2014.

3. Financial penalties (of 50% of any financial award) will be imposed on employers who lose in the employment tribunal, at the tribunal’s discretion. The minimum threshold will be £100 and a maximum cap of £5,000 will be in place. The penalty will be reduced by 50% if paid within 21 days. This is due to come into force on 06th April 2014 by the ERRA 2013.

The government intends to abolish the statutory sick pay record keeping obligations to allow employers to keep records in a more flexible manner suited to their Company. This is due to be introduced on 06th April 2014. Later in the year, the government will introduce a health and work assessment and advisory service which will provide a state funded assessment by occupational health professionals for employees who are absent due to sickness for four weeks or more and case management for employees with complex needs to facilitate their return to work.

If you have any queries in relation to the information herein or in the event that you have any employees who are on long term sick, you should seek advice from Sally Morris at sally.morris@mfgsolicitors.com or on 01905 734032.

     


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