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October 2014 – employment law changes

01 October 2014

A number of changes to employment laws come into force from 1st October 2014 which employers should be aware of and take appropriate action on, warns Adams & Remers.

Jennifer Mansoor at Adams & Remers comments: “Whilst some of the changes are quite small, it is important that employers of all sizes take notice of the changes and implement them where appropriate.”


National Minimum Wage

The rates will go up to:-

Age 21 and over – £6.50 an hour

Age 18 to 20 – £5.13 an hour

Age 16 to 17 – £3.79 an hour

Apprentices under age 19 (or in first year of apprenticeship if older) will get £2.73 an hour.


Unpaid time off for expectant fathers to go to ante natal care appointments

The Children and Families Act 2014 will give expectant fathers (and also the expectant mother’s spouse, civil partner, or partner (of either sex) or intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement) the right to unpaid time off to accompany the expectant mother to ante-natal appointments, from ‘day one’ of their employment.

Currently this right is only enjoyed by the pregnant woman. However, unlike expectant mothers, the right for the fathers (and those who qualify) is limited – they will be entitled to unpaid leave only (rather than paid leave which expectant mothers enjoy), for just one or two appointments and the time off is capped at 6.5 hours for each appointment.

As with expectant mothers, the right will also only apply to employees and agency workers.

Where those who qualify for this right are unreasonably denied it, they can complain to an employment tribunal and be awarded compensation amounting to twice their hourly pay for each hour they would have been absent.


Reserve Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen

Under the Reserve Forces (Payments to Employers and Partners) Regulations 2014, small and medium sized employers will be able to claim up to an extra £500 per month while a reservist is absent from work, on top of the existing expenses for additional costs incurred in replacement of up to £110 for each day of absence.


Equal Pay Audits

Employment Tribunals will have power to order employers to carry out an equal pay audit if they lose an equal pay case or a sex discrimination case related to pay.


Changes to Financial Reporting Council’s UK Corporate Governance Code

While these new rules, announced on 17 September, only apply to groups with a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange, the rules often have a trickle-down effect on other businesses. They apply to financial periods beginning on 1 October 2014.

There are significant changes in what the Code says about executive pay, apparently aimed at ending short-termism. The old wording about pay being enough to attract, retain and motivate executives has been dropped and replaced with a requirement that pay “should be designed to promote the long-term success of the company”.

The Code also says that performance related pay “should be transparent, stretching and rigorously applied” and that companies should consider including provision to claw back performance related pay in appropriate circumstances.This could spark a trend towards longer deferral periods for bonus and greater use of share based incentives rather than cash across the whole UK economy. The new Code is more flexible than the Prudential Regulation Authority’s new rules on bankers’ bonuses, but goes in the same direction.