A number of new employment changes have been introduced by the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act which received Royal Ascent on 30 March 2015, although most of the changes will require supplementary regulations before they come into force. The key changes are:

  • Gender pay data – a requirement for UK employers with 250 or more employees to publish gender pay data (see our briefing for further information)
  • Zero hours contacts – exclusivity clauses which prohibit those on zero hours contracts from working for other employers will not be enforceable (save for some limited exceptions)
  • Minimum wage – financial penalties for non- payment of the national minimum wage are to be extended so that the maximum £20,000 penalty for non-payment will now apply to each worker who has not been paid the national minimum wage.

Other changes include financial penalties for employers who do not pay tribunal awards or settlement sums and the potential for certain public sector workers to repay termination payments if re-engaged within the public sector within a prescribed period.

For more information about what you can expect in 2015 please see our employment law timeline.

Holiday pay and commission

In March, the Leicester Employment Tribunal issued its judgement in Lock v British Gas, confirming that commission should be included in the calculation of holiday pay. This is an important development in the growing line of European and UK cases that have determined that workers are entitled to their normal numeration when they are on holiday. Please see our briefing for further details.

British Gas has now appealed the decision but the appeal is unlikely to be heard by the EAT until later this year. In the meantime, employers should take specialist advice before settling claims or making changes to the way in which holiday pay is calculated.

What’s in store for collective consultation?

The ECJ has delivered its judgment about when an employer’s obligation to carry out collective consultation in redundancy situations arises in USDAW and Wilson (more widely known as the Woolworths case).

The ECJ held that an ‘establishment’ is the entity to which the redundant employees are assigned to carry out their duties and, where there are several entities  in an undertaking, the relevant directive does not require all the establishments to be aggregated for the purposes of determining whether collective redundancy consultation is necessary.

The duty to consult is now set to revert to the original position and only arise where 20 or more redundancies are proposed at one ‘establishment’, commonly a particular site, rather than across the whole employer.

This is good news for employers because it will reduce the legal and administrative burden on businesses carrying out smaller scale restructuring across multiple sites.

Please see our briefing for more details.

Fit for work

The Fit For Work GP referral service started its nationwide role out on 9 March 2015.

There will be a phased role out of Fit For Work GP referrals over the coming months and it is expected that employers will be able to refer employees to the service by autumn 2015, when role out of GP referrals is complete.

News in brief

  • The right to unpaid parental leave was extended to parents who have any child under the age of 18 from 5 April 2015.
  • Shared parental leave became available to employees expecting babies or adopting children on or after 5 April 2015, subject to eligibility requirements. Employers will need to review their currently family friendly policies and implement a new share parental leave policy. Please see our briefing for further details.
  • On 24 April 2015, a number of changes came into force affecting the rules for overseas visitors coming to the UK. These include changes to the business visitor visa which will now come under the new visa (standard) category and will allow greater flexibility in the activities that can be carried out by overseas nationals visiting the UK.
  • BIS have published Changes to adoption leave and pay from 5 April 2015: technical guidance for employers which gives more details on the changes that took place relating to adoption.
  • The maximum amount of a week’s pay (used  to calculate statutory redundancy payments) increased from £464 to £475 per week, where the effective date of termination is on or after 6 April 2015. For more details of the changes or other employments rates and limits please see our  factsheet.
  • The removal of employment tribunal’s power to make wider recommendations, which was due to take place on 6 April 2015, has been postponed and will now take place on 1 October 2015.