• The Equality Bill has now been passed by the House of Lords with a few amendments to be considered by the Commons on 6 April 2010. These include a new power to prohibit caste discrimination and a ban on asking for health and disability information before a job offer has been made save for limited purposes. The exceptions include to assess whether any reasonable adjustments are needed to the recruitment process and to establish whether the employee will be able to carry out a function that is intrinsic to the work. It seems likely that the Bill will be enacted before the general election; the main provisions will come into force in October 2010.
  • From October 2010 the national minimum wage hourly rate will increase to £5.93 for workers aged 21 (previously 22) and over, £4.92 for workers aged 18-20, £3.64 for workers aged 16 and 17 and £2.50 for apprentices aged under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship. The accommodation offset will be £4.61 a day.
  • A new EU Parental Leave Directive has been formally adopted; by 8 March 2012 member states must increase parental leave entitlement from 3 to 4 months and allow returning employees to request temporary changes to their working hours.
  • The European Commission is consulting with the EU social partners on whether to restart attempts to amend the EU Working Time Directive, following the failure in 2009 to reach agreement on changes to on-call time and the opt-out from the 48 hour week.