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New Employment Law Regulations Coming into Force in 2011 - 07/01/2011

As the New Year starts bringing with it hopes of an improving economic climate it would be wise to ensure that future success is not knocked off course by failure to note the new raft of employment law regulations that is scheduled to come into force in the early part of 2011.

The new regulations cover a wide spectrum and we have set out below the new regulations and the implications in chronological order to help you keep compliant.

1 January 2011 - National Minimum Wage (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2010

The year starts with a change to the Regulations relating to the National Minimum Wage.  Expenses in respect of travel and related subsistence costs incurred by employees when travelling to a temporary workplace can no longer form part of the employee's pay for the purposes of the national minimum wage.  The draft Regulations can be seen on the OPSI website.

1 February 2011 - New Tribunal Awards Limits

  • The Employment Rights (increase of Limits) Order 2010 (SI 2010/2926).  The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise from £65,300 to £68,400.
  • The cap on a weeks' pay for the purposes of calculating statutory redundancy pay will go up from £380 to £400 (gross) per week.
  • The minimum basic awards for dismissal related to health and safety, employee representative, trade union, or occupational pension trustee reasons will increase from £4,700 to £5,000.

3 April 2011 - Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay Increase

Pay increases from £124.88 to £128.73.  Information related to the new rates can be seen on the Department for Work and Pensions website.

3 April 2011 - Additional Paternity Pay and Leave

This provision allows employees who are fathers of children due to matched for adoption who are also spouses or partners of mothers entitled to take maternity or adoption leave, to take up to 26 weeks paternity leave in the first year of the child's life or the first year after placement.  Leave taken during the mother or partner's statutory maternity pay period, maternity allowance or statutory adoption pay period may be paid: leave taken after this period will be unpaid.

6 April 2011 - Increase in Employee National Insurance Contributions and allowances

The threshold for National Insurance Contributions rises to £570 and the personal allowance for basic rate tax payers under the age of 65 years is increased by £1,000.

6 April 2011 - Increase in Employer National Insurance Contributions

Thresholds increase by £21 above indexation and employers National Insurance Contributions increase by 1%.

6 April 2011 - The Apprenticeships, Children and Learning Act 2009

This conveys the right to make a request for training or study leave whilst working in an organisation with fewer than 250 employees.  Such requests must be considered by the employer and will only be able to be refused if there is a good business reason for doing so.

6 April 2011 - Abolition of the Default Retirement Age

Notifications of retirement using the default retirement age will no longer be permitted.  However should an employer issue a notification of retirement before 6 April 2011 they will be able to retire any employees whose retirement date is before 1 October 2011.  Employers are prohibited from dictating a compulsory retirement age unless it is justified as an appropriate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

6 April 2011 - Increase to Statutory Sick Pay

Statutory Sick Pay is to be increased from £79.15 to £81.60 per week.

April 2011 - The Bribery Act 2010 Bribery Offences Introduced

The Act introduces a new corporate offence, that of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of the business.  The only defence that a company can use in mitigation, if bribery is found to have taken place, is that it has adequate procedures in place.  The penalty for an organisation found guilty of the offence is an unlimited fine; the penalty for an individual working within the company or as its agent is ten years imprisonment.

April 2011 - Right to Request Flexible Working Extended to Parents of Children Under 18

The right to request flexible working now extended to all parents of children under the age of 18, also to employees who have responsibility for the care of adults aged 18 or over.

April 2011 - The Equality Act 2010 Section 159 comes into Force

Positive Action Provisions of the Equality Act come into force which allows employers to treat individuals with a protected characteristic more favourably in respect of recruitment or promotion, providing the candidate is of equal merit and the favourable treatment enables them to overcome or minimise their disadvantage or otherwise participate in an aspect of work in which he or she is under-represented.

Obviously some of the new Regulations have more impact on businesses than others.  Whilst they are all important and must be addressed, the ones to watch are: The Bribery Act 2010 new offences; The Equality Act positive action provisions and the whole question of how to deal with retirement.  These Regulations are brand new and any litigation arising from them will be breaking new ground making it difficult to predict whether the courts will rigorously enforce, applying the maximum penalties, or allow businesses any leeway and a little bedding in time before taking robust action when the first cases arise.  The wisest course of action is to have your policies and protocols ready before any problems present themselves.

© Tanda Migliorini & Associates LLP 2011

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