More changes to employment law are due in 2014, and we anticipate the following:

31st January 2014 –

TUPE regulations will be reformed in the following ways:

  • The collective redundancy consultation rules in a TUPE situation will change, so that consultation by a transferee prior to a TUPE change can count towards the minimum consultation period, if the transferor agrees and ‘meaningful’ consultation is completed by the transferee.
  • Currently, any dismissal for a reason connected with a TUPE transfer will not be automatically unfair if there are ETO (economic, technical or organisational) reasons involving a change in the workforce.  Case law currently confines this to changes to either the number of employees or the function those employees perform.  This means that redundancies due to a change in location cannot be for an ETO reason and are automatically unfair dismissals.  The change in the Regulations on 31st January 2014 state that a change in location will count as an ETO reason, so that redundancy dismissals due to changes in location of the workplace will not be automatically unfair.
  • The re-negotiation of contract terms derived from collective agreements will be allowed one year after a transfer, provided the changes are no less favourable to the employee.
  • Employee liability information must be provided 28 days after a transfer (rather than the current 14 days), effective from 1st May 2014.
  • Micro businesses (10 or fewer employees) will be able to inform and consult directly with employees from 31st July 2014 (meaning they do not need to elect an employee representative).
  • Contract terms collectively agreed after a transfer date will not automatically transfer.

February 2014 –

  • The changes in statutory payments that normally happen in February (such as the amount for maximum redundancy payments and the basic award for compensation for unfair dismissal) will not be implemented in February as usual, but will be implemented on 6th April 2014 in order to coincide with the normal date that other statutory rises take place (for e.g. maternity pay).  The new rates have yet to be announced.
  • Employers who do not pay their workers the National Minimum wage will face increased penalties (up to £20,000 from £5,000).

1st April 2014 –

  • The ‘window’ for pension auto-enrolment increases from 1 month to 6 weeks, allowing employers extra time to auto-enrol their eligible ‘job-holders’ into a qualifying pension scheme.
  • A £2,000 ‘employment allowance’ is introduced for all businesses (including charities) towards the Employers National Insurance contributions.
  • The personal income tax allowance rises to £10,000 per annum.

6th April 2014 –

  • Claims to an employment tribunal must be submitted to Acas before they are lodged with the Tribunal.  This ‘pre-claim conciliation’ will be mandatory.  The parties to the claim will be offered conciliation for one month.  If it is unsuccessful or if one party refuses, the claim can proceed to the Tribunal.  While the claim is under conciliation this stops the ‘clock’ for claims to be submitted to a Tribunal in time; so the period of 3 months in which a Claimant must usually submit their claim to a Tribunal will be put on hold.
  • Fines for Employers are introduced.  An employment tribunal can levy a financial penalty against an employer that is in breach of employment rights (from a minimum of £100 to a maximum of £5,000).
  • The statutory requirement, under the Equality Act 2010, for questionnaires to be issued by an employee prior to initiating a discrimination claim against their employer at tribunal, is abolished.
  • Changes to the Immigration Bill mean that the maximum penalty for an employer in respect of each illegal worker they employ increases from £10,000 to £20,000.  The range of documents acceptable as evidence of the right to work in the UK is to be reduced.
  • The rates for Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay increase to £138.18 per week.
  • The rate for Statutory Sickness Pay increases to £87.55 per week.

Other important changes taking place on 6th April 2014 –

  •   The awaited Finance Bill will impact on contractors and sub-contractors who find work through an employment agency but who do not work through an umbrella company.  Self-employed people who are employed via an employment agency and carry out the work personally (or provide services personally), and who are subject to control, supervision and direction over the way their duties are carried out, will be subject to tax and employee National Insurance contributions, deducted at source (as normal PAYE works).
  • The employing agency will also have a completely new liability for employer NIC’s.  This means the workers own NI costs will rise to 12% (rather than 9% as self-employed) and the agency has a new liability of 12.8%. This is likely to mean that the worker will achieve employee status and gain employment rights and rights to statutory payments and statutory protection. This looks complicated…. More details to follow.
  •  The right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees who have 26 weeks service.  At the moment it is a right for only those employees with caring responsibilities.  In addition, the existing statutory procedure that employers need to follow to consider flexible working requests is replaced with a duty for employers to consider requests ‘reasonably’. A statutory code of practice will be introduced to give guidance on the meaning of ‘reasonable’.

N.B.   On 22nd January 2014, the Government confirmed that this new right will be delayed and will now  not take place on 6th April, but will be at “an appropriate date as soon as possible this year”.  The Government have not yet said whether the statutory procedure repeal and the new statutory code will also be delayed.  The latest announcement is that the right to request flexible working for all employees will apply from 30th June 2014.

Other changes anticipated in April 2014 but not yet confirmed are:

  • Financial assistance for employers of military reservists is to be revised and the government plan to introduce legislation that will allow a payment of £500 per reservist per month to the employer if they are a small to medium sized company.
  • The Governments ‘red tape freeze’ is extended.  Now, businesses with fewer than 10 employees can be exempted from new regulations (that come into force after 31st March 2014) and this will be extended to businesses with fewer than 50 employees.  This initiative, introduced in 2011, has so far not had any impact on  employment regulations, all of which apply to all businesses.

 

If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues then talk to us at The HR Kiosk (click here) – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – you can hire  us for as much time as you need.

Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an accurate, up to date or authoritative interpretation of the law.  It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.

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