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Employment Law Changes

27th April, 2011

The days are getting longer, the daffodils have sprouted and the Easter eggs have been on the shelves since January. Spring is clearly here and with it comes several changes to employment law which have been brought into force this month.

The Tribunal has covered many of these impending changes previously, but given that April is now upon us, we thought it prudent to provide a reminder of what has changed and the likely implications.

In February, The Tribunal outlined the procedure (including the somewhat complex transitional provisions) for the abolition of the default retirement age. Although automatic retirements at the age of 65 will not be fully abolished until October, 5 April 2011 was the last day whereby an employer could have provided the required notice of retirement.

For more information on retirement, see Default Retirement Age in February’s edition of The Tribunal.

Paternity Leave
In addition to the current entitlement to two weeks paternity leave, parents of babies due on or after 3 April 2011 will be entitled to additional paternity leave of up to 26 weeks. This must be taken in multiplies of complete weeks and last for a minimum of two weeks. Eligibility depends on the employee’s spouse, partner or civil partner returning to work following maternity leave and having some period of leave remaining that may then transfer.

This right will apply equally to those parents who have been matched for adoption.

Equality Act 2010
The majority of the Equality Act 2010 came into force last October and we are already seeing implications of this. In addition, further provisions have come into force this month, including those relating to positive action in recruitment and promotion and public sector equality duties.

Statutory Payment Rates
April has also seen statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay rise from £124.88 to £128.73 per week, with the weekly earnings threshold rising £5 to £102. Although the earnings threshold for maternity allowance will remain at £30 per week, the allowance itself is increasing to £128.73.

Statutory sick pay is also increasing, from £79.15 to £81.60.

Changes No Longer Taking Effect
Although some employers may not be happy to see the implementation of the above changes, the Coalition Government claims to seek the reduction of regulation and obligation on businesses. As a result, several planned changes to employment law are now no longer coming into force in April as originally planned.

For example, it was expected that rights on flexible working would be extended from parents with children under the age of 17, to those with children under the age of 18. The Government announced on 18 March 2011 that it would not go ahead with this change. As mentioned previously, the Bribery Act 2010 will also not take effect this month as planned. This does not mean, however, that these changes will never take place and in case of the Bribery Act 2010, it was recently decided that it will come into force on 1 July 2011.

It was announced last year that the Equality Act 2010’s combined or dual discrimination would not be implemented as planned in April. Then, in the Budget last month it was confirmed this change will not be implemented at all. (For more information on the Budget, please see Budget 2011 and Plan for Growth – Employment Law Implications in this month’s Tribunal.)

Aaron & Partners LLP are currently offering FREE reviews of employment documentation. If you would like to ensure that your contracts and policies reflect the recent changes to employment law, or have any specific enquiries, please contact a member of the team on 01244 405555 or via email at [email protected].

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