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HR Newsletter – Employment Help for the Very Busy


EMPLOYMENT HELP FOR THE VERY BUSY

AUTUMN TO WINTER 2013                  
Please find the new rates and employment law changes that may affect your business, along with what is in store for next year regarding new and proposed legislation.

National Minimum Wage Changes
From 1st October 2013, the following minimum rates now apply:
For workers aged 21 and above the rate increases from £6.19 per hour to £6.31
For workers aged between 18 and 20 the rate increases from £4.98 per hour to £5.03
For workers aged below 18 the rate increases from £3.68 per hour to £3.72
For apprentices aged 19 and below, or in the first year of their course, the rate increases from £2.65 per hour to £2.68per hour

Kay’s comment: The Agricultural Wages Board has now been abolished, so agricultural workers will be subject to National Minimum Wage requirements. However, their existing terms and conditions do not change and employers cannot change rates of pay unless mutually agreed with their employees. The NFU have issued a Post-AWB Employer information pack, which can be accessed by members through their website http://www.nfuonline.com. Agricultural workers in Wales will have to wait for a Supreme Court ruling to find out whether the Welsh Government will be allowed to set up their own wages board.If you would like further guidance on these changes, call me on 01952 246612 or email me at kay@kayhealdhr.co.uk.

Third-Party Harassment – 2013
From 1st October, employer liability for harassment of their employees by third parties (such as customers, contractors or clients) was removed from the Equality Act 2010.

Kay’s comment: This was always a contentious part of the Equality Act and the government has agreed that the original provisions were not workable. However, organisations should still investigate all staff complaints and protect their employees whenever and wherever possible, both as responsible employers and to help avoid any subsequent discrimination claims.

Settlement Agreements – 2013
From 29th July, Compromise Agreements were replaced by ‘Settlement Agreements’, as the method to end an employment relationship, that waives an individual’s rights to make a subsequent claim to an employment tribunal or court. However, the protection does not apply if there is ‘improper’ behavior on either side during negotiations.

Kay’s comment: Although ACAS has introduced a new Code of Practice and information guide on Settlement Agreements (http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4395) I would still strongly recommend seeking additional legal advice before making any settlement offers and only use the Acas templates as a guideline, because individual circumstances and specific business requirements will vary greatly.

Tribunal Fee Update
Although Tribunal fees were introduced in July, despite Unison’s attempts to stop them, a Judicial Review is now due to be carried out later this month, to decide if they should be dropped! All will be revealed in the next Newsletter.

ACAS Early Conciliation – 2014
From April 2014, before lodging a claim to an Employment Tribunal, all claimants will need to notify ACAS first, who will offer FREE conciliation. If conciliation is unsuccessful within a set period the claimant can only then proceed to lodge a tribunal claim.

Kay’s comment: This is aimed at reducing the number of claims actually reaching tribunal and it is hoped that reaching a settlement through conciliation will be quicker, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned – let’s hope so!

FREE RESOURCE – Online support from ACAS
ACAS have introduced a new Online Helpline, which is an automated service to complement their existing telephone Helpline, designed to give straightforward answers to employment relation questions, as well as further links to advice and guidance on their website.

The ACAS Online Helpline can be accessed here:
http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4489
The ACAS Helpline number is: 08457 47 47 47

Flexible Working – 2014
The right to request flexible working (currently only available to parents and carers) is likely to be extended to all employees, with at least 26 weeks’ continuity of service, by 2014.

Kay’s comment: The statutory procedure for considering requests is to be replaced with a duty on employers to consider all requests in a reasonable manner. However, organisations will still be able to refuse requests on business grounds. I believe this is good HR practice and any reasonable request from an employee should be considered.

Tax-Free Childcare – 2015
A new scheme of tax-free childcare is set to be introduced by Autumn 2015, which will eventually replace the existing employer-supported childcare scheme. The Government has produced a useful Infographic to help explain the new provisions to parents:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/208229/childcare_infographic.pdf

Additional Information
NEW KHHR ARTICLE: This blog post includes some innovative incentive ideas and out-of-the-box thinking for owner managers to consider:
https://www.kayhealdhr.co.uk/out-of-the-box-thinking-for-owner-managers/

PENSION AUTO-ENROLMENT: Your staging date may still be a way off, but I recommend you start planning for the right provision as early as possible. If you haven’t already, start by taking a look at the NEST website to find out more about what is on offer from the National Employment Savings Trust, but remember that this is only one of several options to consider:
http://www.nestpensions.org.uk/schemeweb/NestWeb/public/home/contents/homepage.html

Please Note: The information contained in this e-newsletter is provided for your general use only. It should not be treated as a substitute for obtaining professional employment advice on specific issues.
My mailing address is: kay@kayhealdhr.co.ukCopyright (C) 2013 Kay Heald HR All rights reserved.
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