The following employment law changes come into force today, 1 October 2015:

  • Employment Tribunals’ powers have become more limited in respect of making general recommendations to employers in successful discrimination claims. Recommendations must now relate to the specific steps the respondent should take to reduce the adverse effect of discrimination on the claimant personally rather than the organisation as a whole. 
  • The right for Sikhs to wear turbans instead of safety helmets has been extended to almost all workplaces, whereas previously it only applied to construction sites. There remain some limited exceptions, for example military and emergency services. 
  • The national minimum wage increases to the following rates per hour: 
    • £6.70 for adults (age 21+)
    • £5.30 for 18 – 20 year olds
    • £3.87 for 16 – 17 year olds
    • £3.30 for apprentices
  • Self-employed people who do not employ anyone are now exempt from health and safety regulations where their business activity poses no potential risk of harm to others.  
  • From today drivers and passengers of private cars in England are banned from smoking in them if they are carrying children under 18 as passengers. Restrictions on smoking in company vehicles existed already, but did not cover company cars used by only one employee, or used primarily for the employee’s private purposes. As a result of this change to the law, employers will need to closely consider revising their smoking and company car policies, as employees using the vehicle for family purposes will be caught by the new legislation if their passengers include children under the age of 18.