This October sees a some fairly major employment law changes taking effect and we reckon it’s pretty handy to be in the know about these sort of things, be it for nonchalant water cooler chat or for prompting a serious rethink of your HR strategy due to some major oversight on your part.
With that in mind we’ll give you a quick overview of the 3 most important changes to employment law taking effect this October.
National Minimum Wage Rise
Starting on October 1st, the National Minimum Wage rate is set to rise across the board, which means a rise for each group of workers: apprentices, 16-17, 18-20 and 21 and over, and the changes are as follows:
|Old Rate||Increase||New Rate|
|21 & over||£6.31||19p||£6.50|
The rise in the minimum hourly rate doesn’t only apply to those who earn an hourly wage, it covers salaried workers as well and is determined by what you equivalent hourly wage would be over the course of a year, by dividing your hours worked by the amount of money you received for that work. All that maths can get a bit messy but luckily the Government have got us sorted with a handy National Minimum Wage calculator to help you figure out if you’re still being paid the right about from October 1st onwards.
What this rise in the National Minimum Wage rate means is an extra £385 a year for full-time employees (40hrs/week, 52 weeks/year) who are on the National Minimum Wage – not too bad, but still a long way off the proposed living wage of £7.65 (or £8.80 in London) favoured by Labour, the Lib Dems and the Green Party.
Antenatal Rights for Fathers and Partners
Partners (civil partners and same-sex partners included) and fathers have gained the right to accompany a pregnant women to up to two separate antenatal appointments, capped at 6.5 hours per appointment (more info here on the gov.uk website). This means employers could face the Employment Tribunal if they don’t allow employees to attend these appointments, or threaten changes to their employment status if they do, which would be likely to result in some fairly hefty legal penalties.
This could be a small step to bracing us for the upcoming implementation of shared parental leave in the UK in April 2015. Under this new plan, mothers must take the first two weeks of leave, but after that are able to transfer any amount up to the rest of the time to their partner. So the mother and her partner have 50 weeks between them which they may split how they wish. They could even choose to both take 25 weeks at the same time, adding up to the total 50 weeks between them, but all this is better suited for a blog post in April 2015.
Compulsory Equal Pay Audits
From October 1st onwards, if the Employment Tribunal finds a breach in an equal pay claim then it is obligated to order the employer to conduct an equal pay audit. The results of the audit must then be published by the employer on their website, for all to see, offering greater transparency and accountability.
So, if an employer does break equal pay law and found guilty by the Employment Tribunal, then their entire organisation will come under inspection, with all results being broadcast online for anyone to see. This could mean some serious bad PR for companies treating their workers unfairly, which is a much greater incentive to keep everything kosher than the standard low-key fines which most companies are used to.
So that’s it for the major employment law changes taking place in October 2014. Hope you leave this blog post feeling at least a little more informed.