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Kay Heald HR Newsletter (Summer 2013)

EMPLOYMENT HELP FOR THE VERY BUSY
SUMMER 2013

Welcome to my summer e-newsletter.
The employment legislation arena continues to shift and change this year, so here is the latest up-to-date information to avoid you having to wade through volumes of documents and articles, to find out what’s relevant!
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Portable Online DBS Checks
Portable online disclosure and barring checks were introduced on 17th June 2013. Those applying for a criminal record check can choose to subscribe to the new service for £13 a year.

Kay’s comment: The service will now allow individuals to keep their criminal record certificate up to date, so they can take it with them from role to role. Employers will be able to carry out free, instant online checks of an individual’s certificate, but only with their consent. More details are available via the DBS website: https://www.disclosures.co.uk/google_adwords/?src=ga&gclid=CKqr_KmggbgCFSfLtAod-BIAQg

Whistleblowing
On 25th June 2013, under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, changes were made to ‘whistleblowing’ law: whistleblowers must now reasonably believe a disclosure is in the ‘public interest’. Similar to discrimination claims, employers will be liable for any victimisation by a whistleblowers’ colleagues, unless they have taken reasonable steps to prevent it.

Kay’s comment: The new legislation is already receiving a lot of criticism, as no definition of ‘public interest’ has been included. This means a worker will have to blow the whistle before they find out whether they qualify for protection! Whilst the courts debate the details of the new legislation, I would recommend that employers check that they are nurturing an open and honest culture with their employees and consider implementing a separate whistleblowing policy or providing relevant management instruction if they feel it is an area that needs strengthening.

If you need any advice and guidance in this area, please don’t hesitate to give me a call on 01952 246612.

Tribunal Fees
Implementation of tribunal fees is likely to be from 29th July 2013. All employment tribunal claims and appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on or after that date will be subject to a fee structure, unless claimants qualify for a fee exemption.

Level 1 fees for straightforward claims such as holiday and notice pay, redundancy or unpaid wages will cost £160 to start the claim and £230 to take the claim to a hearing.  Level 2 fees will be for all other claims such as unfair dismissal, discrimination and whistleblowing and will cost £250 to issue the claim and £950 to proceed to a hearing. Appeals will cost £400 and a fee of £1,200 if the case goes to an EAT hearing.

Kay’s comment: Unison are currently challenging the introduction of tribunal fees through the High Courts, demanding a judicial review on the grounds that the fee structure will make it impossible for workers to exercise their rights under employment law – they are unlikely to stop the introduction, but may succeed in delaying the implementation date. I will share any changes in the Autumn Newsletter.

Pension Auto-enrolment
Nick Jones is a Partner of St. James’s Place Wealth Management and has kindly agreed to say a few words about pension auto-enrolment:

“Auto-enrolment will have a major impact on all employers, particularly for those with no current provision, or current low pension membership participation rates, as it is an obligation on employers to enroll eligible jobholders in a workplace pension scheme, unless they are already a member of a Qualifying Scheme.

The date from which employers will need to do this varies from employer to employer and is called the ‘staging date’. The earliest staging date was October 2012 and employers can find out their staging date from http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/tools/staging-date.aspx

You may own or be a director of a business and these changes will impact on you (and your employees). We are happy to talk to you about your obligations, so that you will have plenty of time to plan and prepare for the changes.”

Nick’s contact details are:
Telephone : 01743 240968 / 07855 857795
Email : nick.jones@sjpp.co.uk
Web : www.nickjjones.co.uk/business

Nick Jones represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website www.sjp.co.uk/products. ‘Partner’ is the marketing term used to describe St. James’s Place representatives.

Employee Shareholders
Despite resistance from the House of Lords, some last minute tweaking to the Growth and Infrastructure Bill saw ‘employee ownership’ or ‘employee shareholder status’ finally being approved, with an implementation date set for 1st September 2013. This will enable employees to own between £2,000 and £50,000 of company shares, but waive their right to claim unfair dismissal, statutory redundancy or request flexible working, study or training.

Kay’s comment: Some of the rules have been simplified so that companies that issue shares directly to their employees will find it easier to buy back these shares when an employee leaves. Employers will also have to pay for independent advice for staff being offered employee ownership. The government has planned a national Employee Ownership Day on 4th July 2013, to promote and raise awareness of employee ownership. Further details and links are available via  http://www.eoday.co.uk/ 

National Minimum Wage Changes
From 1st October 2013, the following minimum rates will 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 £2.68 per hour

Zero Hour Contracts
Zero Hour contracts are once again under the spotlight as the government prepares to carry out a review to investigate whether they need to be reformed and/or more tightly regulated. Recent studies have highlighted their increasing use by employers to reduce costs during the recession, but reports of worker exploitation, lower wages and under-employment are tarnishing their reputation.

Kay’s comment: I agree with the view taken by ACAS, that zero hour contracts can be a useful mechanism for dealing with fluctuating staffing needs, but they need to be managed and monitored carefully. If occasional earnings and flexible work genuinely suit both employee and employer, they can work well, but their recent increase in use, particularly in the health, social care, hospitality and administrative sectors, has given rise to concerns of misuse and unfair treatment.

If you are considering the use of zero hour contracts, I can help you assess their applicability for your particular situation.

Additional Information

NEW ARTICLE: 7 Traits of Perfect Employees – thank you to my clients and contacts who contributed to this article – it has raised some interesting comments and discussions via social media https://www.kayhealdhr.co.uk/7-traits-of-perfect-employees/

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.
Email kay@kayhealdhr.co.uk Telephone 01952 246612
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  1. Kay Heald says:

    NEWS UPDATE: The Government has just produced a guide to help organisations move towards employee ownership, which includes model documentation.

    Find out more here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employee-ownership-company-model-documentation

  2. Kay Heald says:

    POINT OF INFORMATION: I’ve had a couple of people ask about the Agricultural Wages Board – yes, it has been abolished, which means that agricultural workers will now be subject to the National Minimum Wage, which is lower than the old AWB rates. Existing contracts will be safeguarded, however, employers are free to employ new workers on the National Minimum Wage.

2 responses to “Kay Heald HR Newsletter (Summer 2013)”

  1. Kay Heald says:

    NEWS UPDATE: The Government has just produced a guide to help organisations move towards employee ownership, which includes model documentation.

    Find out more here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employee-ownership-company-model-documentation

  2. Kay Heald says:

    POINT OF INFORMATION: I’ve had a couple of people ask about the Agricultural Wages Board – yes, it has been abolished, which means that agricultural workers will now be subject to the National Minimum Wage, which is lower than the old AWB rates. Existing contracts will be safeguarded, however, employers are free to employ new workers on the National Minimum Wage.