Four Employment Changes Due for October 2014
The job market has seen a very positive change so far this year with the number of job opportunities on the rise and businesses expanding. With all this going on, in addition to coming out of the recession, new employment laws are being introduced from October 2014. Some of these changes will benefit employers, others causing increasing costs to employers but having benefits to the employee.
Four of the legal changes to be made in October include:
- Antenatal Rights for Fathers and Partners to take Time off Work
As of 1st October 2014, employees who have a qualifying relationship with a pregnant woman or an expected child will be entitled to time off in order to attend an antenatal appointment on up to two occasions. The right to time off is capped at 6 and a half hours on each occasion which includes travelling time, waiting time and attendance. A minimum period of service within the company will not be required in order to take advantage of this.
Employers who unreasonably refuse to allow time off will be liable to pay compensation at twice the hourly rate for the period when the individual would have been entitled to be absent had the request not been refused.
- Employment Tribunals Must Order Equal Pay Audits
Where an equal pay claim is submitted on or after 1 October 2010, and the employment tribunal finds that there has been an equal pay breach, the employer must carry out an equal pay audit.
However, there are some exceptions to this which are set out in the Equality Act 2010 (Equal Pay Audits) Regulations 2014. These include whether a recent audit that meets certain requirements has been carried out by the employer, whether or not the benefits delivered by the audit would exceed the disadvantages of conducting it, and whether the breach of the equal pay legislation that gave rise to the claim appears to be a one off and the tribunal has no reason to think there may be other breaches.
- National Minimum Wage Increases
The National Minimum Wage will be increased from £6.31 per hour to £6.50 from 1st October 2014. The youth rate will increase from £5.03 to £5.13. The rate for workers aged 16-17 will increase from £3.72 to £3.79 and the apprentice rate from £2.68 to £2.73 per hour.
- Reservists Better Protected against Unfair Dismissal
From 1st October 2014, where an employee is dismissed mainly or exclusively due to being a member of the reserve forces, the normal two year service requirement for bringing an unfair dismissal claim does not apply, and an employee may pursue a claim immediately. A qualifying employment period does not apply.
In addition, small and medium sized employers will be entitled to claim monthly payments from the Ministry of Defence for periods when the reservist employee is absent on military service. This new payment scheme, which does not apply to public authorities, entitles small and medium sized businesses to an additional monthly payment of £500 for each full month the employee is absent of work, assuming they are on a full time contract, working at least 35 hours a week. The amount is pro-rated if the reservist is away for periods of less than a month and where the employee is contracted to work less than 35 hours a week.