October 2014 has seen key changes to employment law that should now be integrated into the core HR practices for all businesses with employees in the UK. Alasdair Hobbs, an Employer Law Solicitor in the West Midlands, provides a brief account of these changes.
National Minimum Wage Rates
From October 1st 2014, the National Minimum Wage has increased to: £6.50 per hour for adult workers (aged 21+), £5.13 per hour for youth workers (aged 18 – 20), £3.79 for young workers aged under 18, who are above the compulsory school age and not part of an apprenticeship scheme, and £2.73 for apprentices.
It is estimated that over one million workers in the UK will benefit from the rise in the National Minimum Wage and employees are encouraged to check that their hourly rate meets this government-set wage rise.
New Rights for Fathers and Partners of Pregnant Women
From October 2014, expectant fathers (including same sex couples) and partners of pregnant women have gained a new right to take unpaid time off work to attend up to two antenatal appointments.
In a government attempt to encourage fathers to play an active role in the upbringing of their children from the earliest possible stages, this new right is part of the government’s wider shared parental leave programme, which will be introduced in April 2015.
Equal Pay Audit Regulations
Following the publication of the Equality Act 2010 (Equal Pay Audits) Regulations 2014, from October 1st employment tribunals will be given the right to order an equal pay audit if an employer is found to be in breach of the equal pay provisions as set out in the Equality Act 2010.
The audit will be required to provide, in detail, a report to the tribunal that states the pay rates and gender of employees, the reasons for any difference in pay between men and women who are doing the same job, reasons for any breach of equal pay as identified by the audit, and a satisfactory plan of resolution by the employer.
New Employment Rights for Military Reservists
October 2014 also introduces an enhancement in employment rights for those serving as a military reservist (formerly referred to as the TA, or Territorial Army) under the Defence Reform Act 2014.
Employees who claim to be dismissed because of their membership to a reserve force, will now not have to wait for the statutory two year qualifying-period to make a claim for unfair dismissal. However, this does not mean that a claim of unfair dismissal will automatically be granted by an employment tribunal; employees will still have to prove that it is unfair for their employer to dismiss them on the grounds of their secondary reservist occupation.
On the other hand, employers will also gain new rights through the Reserve Forces (Payments to Employers and Partners) Regulations 2014. Under these regulations, SME employers will be able to claim up to £500 per month during periods when reservist employees are absent due to their obligations to the armed forces.
For further employment law advice and updates, contact Employment Law Solicitor, Alasdair Hobbs on 0845 257 9449 or firstname.lastname@example.org