Changes to Employment Law effective as of 1 October 2014
There are a number of legal changes which came into effect from 1 October 2014, which employers must be aware of. These are as follows:
Fathers’ right to time off for antenatal appointments
From 1 October 2014, the Children and Families Act allows fathers-to -be and partners of pregnant women to take unpaid time off to attend two antenatal appointments with the expectant mother, up to a maximum of six and a half hours for each appointment. The same right applies to intended parents in a surrogacy situation who wish to take time off to accompany a pregnant woman on two occasions.
The Act provides protection against detriment or dismissal for taking time off in these circumstances. Simply-docs documents will be amended after 1 October to reflect these changes.
Changes to the National Minimum Wage (NMW)
The national minimum wage rates increase from 1 October 2014 as follows:
• 21 years and over – £6.50 per hour
• 18-20 years – £5.13 per hour
• 16-17 years – £3.79 per hour
• Apprentice rate – £2.73 per hour.
Removal of Qualifying Period for Unfair Dismissal and Additional Payments for Employers in Respect of Reservists
The Defence Reform Act 2014, which was passed on 14 May 2014, includes new measures to provide greater protection to reservists.
• The statutory qualifying period for unfair dismissal will be removed where the dismissal is connected with the employee’s membership of the Reserve Forces. This will only apply to those employees whose effective date of termination falls after 1 October 2014; and
• Small and medium-sized employers will be entitled to claim monthly payments from the Ministry of Defence for periods when reservist employees are absent on military service. The new payment scheme entitles small and medium-sized employers to an additional monthly payment of £500 for each full month that a mobilised reservist is absent from work, assuming that they are on a full-time contract and work at least 35 hours a week. The amount is pro-rated for periods of less than a month and where the reservist is contracted to work fewer than 35 hours a week.
Equal Pay Audits
From October 2014, employment tribunals will have the power to require employers to carry out equal pay audits where they have breached the equal pay legislation. Simply-docs will be adding a template equal pay audit form to its suite of documents.
Shared parental leave
Although the law change in respect of shared parental leave comes into effect in October 2014, it only affects parents of children born or matched for adoption on or after 5 April 2015. This change is designed to allow parents to share care for the child in the first year from the date of the child’s birth. Both parents will be able to take shared parental leave and claim shared parental pay after the compulsory two-week maternity leave period. Before taking a block of leave, an employee will have to provide the employer with 8 weeks’ notice. The scheme will also provide each employee taking shared parental leave with 20 KIT-style days.