|EMPLOYMENT HELP FOR THE VERY BUSY
Welcome to the Autumn 2012 issue, with another round-up of quick to read and informative HR news for busy business owners!
The Red Tape Challenge and streamlining employment law
Since April 2011, the Government has been examining some 6,500 substantive regulations as part of its Red Tape Challenge. It is now committing to abolish or substantially reduce at least 3,000 of these regulations and will complete the identification of the regulations to be scrapped or overhauled by December 2013.
BIS has reported that this is the most ambitious action ever proposed by a modern British government to slash the burden of regulation for businesses. It is estimating a saving to British companies of millions of pounds in wasted time and money, and aims to spur economic growth and innovation across the UK.
Part of the Government’s plans to help smaller businesses will include support for new settlement agreements (ie also being referred to as consensual agreements or a form of compromise agreement) and clearer guidelines from ACAS on discipline and grievance. Consultations on these and other proposals will be ongoing until late November.
Kay Heald Comment: Be wary of the media hype around perceived savings to employers – a proposed £40 million saving per year from the impending employment tribunal reforms seems a little ambitious! However, I believe it is a move in the right direction and I look forward to sharing what these changes will mean for you in forthcoming Newsletters.
Rate Changes from 1st October 2012
The National Minimum Wage increases are as follows:
For workers aged 21 and above the rate increases from £6.08 per hour to £6.19
For workers aged between 18 and 20 the rate stays at £4.98 per hour
For workers aged between 16 and 17 the rate stays at £3.68 per hour
For apprentices aged 19 and below, or in the first year of their course, the rate increases from £2.60 per hour to £2.65 per hour
The Agricultural Wages Board has set the following minimum wage rates from 1st October 2012: Grade 1- £6.21 p/h; Grade 2 – £6.96 p/h; Grade 3 – £7.66 p/h; Grade 4 – £8.21 p/h; Grade 5 – £8.70 p/h and Grade 6 – £9.40 p/h
Kay Heald Comment: For further information on the Agricultural Wages Board changes go to: http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/awo2012-guidance.pdf
Pension Reform and Auto-enrolment
The focus is on large employers who are required to implement eligible qualifying schemes by 1st October 2012. Employers with 50 to 249 staff must now implement the scheme between 1 April 2014 – 2015; those with 30 to 49 staff between 1 August 2015 – 1 October 2015; while those with fewer than 30 qualifying workers must implement the scheme between 1 January 2016 – 1 April 2017.
Firms which begin trading between April 2012 – September 2017 will have implementation dates ranging from 1 May 2017 – 1 February 2018. Those launching from October 2017 onwards must implement auto enrolment immediately.
Contributions will start at 1% from the employee and 1% from the employer. Once all employers have implemented the scheme, contributions will increase in stages with firms eventually putting forward at least 3% of their employees’ salary, and the employee adding at least 4%. Their contributions will also benefit from 1% tax relief. Full contributions must be paid from 1 October 2018.
Kay Heald Comment: There will be a provision to apply a waiting period of up to three months to delay auto-enrolment duty, but employers will not be allowed to encourage employee opt-out. There may be planning and cash-flow benefits to phasing in employer contributions earlier than the staging dates, but seeking timely, good quality financial advice and keeping employees informed throughout, will be of key importance.
Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (including changes to CRB checking)
The main part of this act came into force in September and features include:
• a new definition of ‘regulated activity’
• removal of the ‘controlled activity’ category eg for those who manage the records of children and vulnerable adults
• a minimum age of 16 years for applying for a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check
• provision to merge CRB and ISA to form the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
Kay Heald Comment: For further information have a look at this link: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/agencies-public-bodies/crb/about-crb/crb-pofa-2012/crb-changes-sep/
Equality in Action
If you haven’t already heard of Wavelength, I strongly recommend you check out their website and LinkedIn Group (if you like your social media): http://www.wave-length.org.uk LinkedIn Group: Wave-length
Wavelength is a Community Interest Company, based in Telford, that has been set up to challenge the barriers to employment people face when they have a disability. They have a refreshing and proactive approach with a vision to ‘disable disability’. They run a series of FREE ‘Waffle with Wave-Length’ events and their next event is on issues around Autism and Asperger’s in the workplace on 30th October 2012 – for more details go to: http://www.wave-length.org.uk/events/waffle-with-wave-length-life-on-the-spectrum/
NEW ARTICLE: Please take the time to read Jackie Ward’s new article entitled: Are you Making your Staff Stupid? I hope it will prompt you to ask questions about your own stress levels and that of your employees: https://www.kayhealdhr.co.uk/are-you-making-your-staff-stupid/
You will find more useful information on Jackie’s new Website – Towards Better Living: http://towardsbetterliving.com/
RECENT ARTICLE: I had an excellent online response to an article I wrote to mark the 7th Birthday of Kay Heald HR – it included 7 inspirational business quotes, which I hope you will also enjoy reading – please feel free to add your own!
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I’ve just been informed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) that I have successfully met their upgrade criteria and am now a Chartered Fellow ! Thank you to everyone for their support and particularly to Becki Horsewood from Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd and Graeme Brookes from ABC HR, who were my wonderful sponsors.
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.