The fast pace of employment law reform is set to continue in 2014 with some significant changes - see the highlights below. Our Employment team will be running a free workshop covering the key topics this Spring. To reserve your place, or for more information on this event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
31 JANUARY 2014
The rules on service provision changes remain but the legislation now clarifies that the activities carried on after the change must be "fundamentally or essentially the same" as those carried out before.
For transfers which take place on or after 1 May 2014, the employee information must be provided 28 days before the transfer (rather than the current 14 days)
Economic, technical or organisational reasons entailing a change in the workforce will expressly include a change in workplace location meaning that genuine place of work redundancies will not be automatically unfair.
Contractual terms which are derived from a collective agreement can be varied more than one year after the transfer where the terms are no less favourable overall to the employee.
13 MARCH 2014
Zero hour contracts
Government consultation closes.
1 APRIL 2014
Auto-enrolment for employers with between 50 and 249 workers
The auto-enrolment staging dates for employers in this category run from 1 April 2014 to 1 April 2015. Auto-enrolment requires all employers in the UK to automatically enrol eligible jobholders in a qualifying pension scheme, unless the employer already has a qualifying scheme of which the jobholder is already an active member.
6 APRIL 2014
Introduction of compulsory pre-claim conciliation
Employees will have to submit details of their dispute to ACAS before they can lodge a claim at Tribunal. ACAS will then have 1 month to try and settle the dispute and this will 'stop the clock' on the usual 3 month time limit for submitting a Tribunal claim. If ACAS cannot achieve settlement between the parties, or either party refuses its help, ACAS will issue a certificate to the Claimant. Claimants will only be able to lodge their claims at Tribunal once they have been issued with this certificate.
Abolition of discrimination questionnaires
Currently individuals who believe they have been discriminated against have been able to send a statutory discrimination questionnaire to their employer or former employer. This can lead to the employer having to spend significant resources dealing with the questionnaire. From 6 April 2014, individuals will no longer be able to serve a statutory questionnaire. Instead there will be an "informal approach" which will be outlined in non-statutory guidance from ACAS.
Financial penalties for employers
For Employment Tribunal claims issued after 6 April 2014, the employer may be liable to pay a financial penalty if it loses. The minimum financial penalty will be £100 and the maximum £5,000 in addition to any compensation to the individual Claimant. The employer pays the financial penalty to the government and not the Claimant. The penalty will be reduced by 50% if it is paid within 21 days.
Extension to right to request flexible working
The right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service, not just those that have children under the age of 17 (18 if the child is disabled)or responsibilities as a carer. At the same time the right is extended, the statutory procedure which employers must currently follow when they receive a flexible working request will be abolished. Instead employers will have a duty to deal with requests in a 'reasonable manner'.
STOP PRESS - this has now been postponed. The new implementation date is yet to be announced by the Government.