|EMPLOYMENT HELP FOR THE VERY BUSYSUMMER 2012Welcome to the Summer 2012 issue, which I hope you will find quick to read, easy to understand and informative!
Tribunal and Resolution Reform
The controversial proposal to make it easier for businesses to sack staff through ‘compensated no-fault dismissals’ has been dropped from the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. However, commitment to improve the employment tribunals system remains, including early settlements through Acas before a claim is lodged and a Rapid Resolution scheme for less complex disputes, to provide a quicker and cheaper decision route.
Kay Heald Comment: Voluntary ‘Settlement Agreements’ were included in the Bill instead of compensated no-fault dismissals – these are likely to be very similar to ‘Compromise Agreements’, more details should be available within my next Newsletter. Protected conversations and charging fees to bring claims are still under consideration.
Extra Information: BIS has released a short, 3-page document summarising the main purpose and benefits of the new reform legislation: http://discuss.bis.gov.uk/enterprise-bill/files/2012/05/12-855-enterprise-regulatory-reform-bill-employment.pdf
Rate Changes – October 2012
The National Minimum Wage will change later this year as follows:
For workers aged 21 and above the rate will increase from £6.08 per hour to £6.19
For workers aged between 18 and 20 the rate will stay at £4.98 per hour
For workers aged between 16 and 17 the rate will stay at £3.68 per hour
For apprentices aged 19 and below, or in the first year of their course, the rate will increase from £2.60 per hour to £2.65 per hour
New minimum rates are still likely to apply to agricultural workers this year despite plans to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board. For Grade 2 and above workers, the minimum rate from October, has been set at £6.96 per hour and for Grade 1 workers, the rate will be £6.21 per hour.
Kay Heald Comment: The Agricultural Wages Board has managed to ‘hang in there’ and negotiate another year of minimum wages, but its future is not looking too bright – more information is likely to be available later in the year.
Sick Pay vs Holiday Pay
The European Court of Justice has recently clarified the arrangements for handling sickness occurring whilst employees are on holiday leave: an employee who falls sick during a period of holiday leave should be paid sick pay for the period of sickness and be allowed to take the holiday leave at a later date.
Kay Heald Comment: In many cases employees will decide against notifying their employer, particularly if it means they only receive Statutory Sick Pay. Reporting of sick leave whilst on holiday leave will be of greater importance to companies who operate a more generous contractual sick pay scheme. Another point to note is that this European ruling only applies to a maximum of 20 days leave, not the UK’s statutory 28 days leave. Give me a call on: 05600 434 727 if you would like more information and guidance.
Equality Act 2010
The government announced earlier this year that it considers the current obligation on employers to take reasonable steps to protect their employees from third-party harassment an ‘unworkable requirement’.
Kay Heald Comment: there will be a consultation process on the removal of this provision next year. It is unclear what effect this will have on employers, as European legislation underpins the Equality Act, so its removal may not be straightforward.
Employee Health and Wellbeing
The management of employee health and wellbeing has become an increasingly important topic over recent years, as many companies try and compete in increasingly competitive markets, with smaller budgets and smaller workforces. Stress remains a key cause for long term sickness absence and companies need to look at practical ways of keeping their costs down, by keeping their people as healthy and ‘well’ as possible.
FREE RESOURCES: The CIPD and Axa PPP Healthcare have developed a series of online resources for employers wanting to find out more about health and well-being in the workplace – they have produced a FREE leaflet and top tips poster: Under Pressure: Stay Healthy and Happy at Work http://www.cipd.co.uk/publicpolicy/policy-reports/under-pressure.aspx
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This month Bev Harrison, from AFH Wealth Management has kindly written an article on Pension Auto-enrolment and is happy to speak informally to anyone who has a specific concern regarding the process, including the staging dates and qualifying schemes. She can be contacted on: 07919 363609 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW ARTICLE: Pension Auto-enrolment: Ready or not it’s on its Way
You may also be interested in this recent article that I wrote to capture the ‘good practice’ that many of my clients are already using to weather the recession – do you recognise your ‘habit’?
RECENT ARTICLE: 7 Recession-Busting Habits of Effective Business Owners
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.