Reminder of the legislative changes coming into force in April. 1 April

  • Maternity and adoption leave and pay - Changes to the provisions on maternity and adoption leave and pay, which came into force on 1 October 2006 in relation to employees whose expected week of childbirth/placement for adoption is on or after 1 April, are now fully in operation. (Remember these could apply to an employee who commenced maternity leave as early as week of 14 January 2007).These include:
    • Extension of paid leave from six to nine months;
    • Removal of the qualifying criteria for AML/AAL;
    • Extension of notice periods for return to work to eight weeks;
    • Introduction of ‘keeping in touch’ days;
    • Concept of reasonable contact.
  • Statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay increases to £112.75 a week.
  • Age discrimination - The transitional provisions regarding the duty to consider requests to work beyond retirement now expired.

2 April

  • Smoking ban - Comes into force in Wales

6 April

  • Flexible Working - The right to request flexible working extended to ‘carers’ of adults.
  • Statutory Sick Pay increases to £72.55.
  • Sex discrimination - Gender Equality Duty comes into force placing a statutory duty on all public authorities to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment and promote equality of opportunity between men and women.
  • Age discrimination - Amendments to address “technical glitches” to age claims to bring it in line with other forms of discrimination law.
  • Information and consultation - The Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 will be extended to cover employers with 100 or more employees.
  • Occupational pensions - The Occupational Pension Schemes (Consultation by Employers and Miscellaneous Amendment) Regulations 2006 and The Occupational Pension Schemes (Consultation by Employers)(Modification for Multi-employer Schemes) Regulations 2006 will be extended to cover undertakings with more than 100 employees.
  • Statutory dispute resolution procedures - The ambit of the Statutory Dispute Resolution Procedures extended to also apply to disputes in relation to detriment relating to:
    • Information & consultation representatives and employees
    • Occupational & personal pension scheme representatives
    • European Public Limited-Liability Companies

30 April

  • Religious discrimination - The Equality Act 2006 will amend the definition of “any religion, religious belief or similar philosophical belief” (regulation 2(1)) by removing the word “similar” so that it covers being of no religion or belief and widens the scope of what might be regarded as a philosophical belief. [Delayed from original implementation date of 6 April].
  • Sexual orientation and religion or belief discrimination - Protection against discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of religion or belief and sexual orientation.
  • Smoking ban - Comes into force in Northern Ireland