News

This newsflash takes a look at the key employment law changes that are set to take place next year.

Implications

A number of important changes to employment law will take place in 2010, not least the biggest overhaul in discrimination legislation for many years with the introduction of the Single Equality Act.

Employers need to be aware of the changes to employment law not only to ensure that they comply with new legal requirements but also to think about any necessary changes that will need to be made to company procedures or policies.

The Howes Percival newsflash service will provide a more in depth analysis of each new employment law before the implementation dates next year.

Details

Changes for February 2010

  • The maximum Compensatory Award for unfair dismissal claims in cases involving a dismissal on or after 1st February 2010, will be reduced from £66,200 to £65,300. The maximum guarantee payment per day where date of lay off falls on or after 1st February 2010, will be reduced to £21.50 to £21.20. Both of these reductions reflect the decrease of 1.4% in the Retail Prices Index in the period September 2008 to September 2009.
  • There is no change to the maximum limit of a week's pay used to calculate Statutory Redundancy Pay and the unfair dismissal Basic Award which will remain at £380.00.

Changes for April 2010:-

• Right to request time off for training

The right will come into force on the 6th April 2010 for employers with 250 or more employees and will be extended to cover all employers in April 2011. The right is similar to the right to request flexible working and therefore is simply a right to 'request'. Employers will be under no obligation to pay for the requested training and can refuse the request for business reasons. However they will have to follow a prescribed procedure when a request is received.

• Introduction of 'fit' notes

The Social Security (Medical Evidence) and Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Amendment Regulations 2010 replace the current 'sick note' system with 'fit' notes. These allow GP's to state whether the employee could return to work if certain adjustments are made to their working conditions. GP's will also be allowed to issue printed statements rather than hand written ones.

• Additional Paternity Leave

Although this will be introduced in April 2010, it will only apply to parents of babies born on or after the 3rd April 2011. It will allow the mother to transfer up to 26 weeks leave to the father if they return to work before the end of their maternity leave period. The Government has delayed implementation to allow employers time to prepare for the change including updating and amending any maternity and paternity leave policies.

• Increases to Statutory Payments

Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption pay will increase from £123.06 per week to £124.88 per week. The weekly earnings threshold for these payments and Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £95.00 to £97.00 per week. However the rate of Statutory Sick Pay will remain at £79.15 per week.

Changes for October and November 2010:-

  • In October 2010 the Single Equality Act (currently referred to as the 'Equality Bill' during its progression through Parliament) comes into force. This Act replaces all anti-discrimination legislation (apart from the Equal Pay Act) enacted over the past 35 years. It harmonises current discrimination law where possible and introduces a number of new anti-discrimination laws including outlawing discrimination and harassment based on association and perception, the introduction of 'combined discrimination' claims and a new social economic duty for public authorities.
  • From November 2010 individuals who want to work with children or vulnerable adults must register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

Other changes due in 2010:-

  • The Government will review the Default Retirement Age (DRA) next year and it is widely expected that the DRA of 65 will be increased as a result. However no date has been set for when any change to the DRA will be implemented.
  • The practice of 'blacklisting' workers for their union membership or activities will be outlawed. Draft Regulations have been published by the Government but no firm date has been given for when they will come into force.