As 2008 starts to draw to a close we take a look at employment law changes for 2009 and beyond.
Employers need to be aware of the new laws so that any changes to company procedures or policies can be implemented in good time. We will give you further details of each of the changes in the new year.
Changes for April 2009:
- The Employment Act 2008. This repeals the existing statutory dismissal and grievance procedures and replaces them with a requirement for employers and employees to follow a new ACAS Code of Practice (see Howes Percival Newsflash of 11 November 2008 for details of the new ACAS Code).
- An increase in the minimum statutory holiday entitlement from 4.8 weeks (or 24 days for a full time employee) to 5.6 weeks (or 28 days).
- The extension of the right for employees to request flexible working to parents of children aged up to 16 years (see Howes Percival Newsflash of 27 August 2008 for more details on this proposal). Other changes which will come into force in 2009:
- The introduction in Spring 2009 of Tier 4 of the Points Based Immigration System which applies to students.
- The maximum weekly working time for Doctors in training to be reduced from 56 to 48 hours on 1 August 2009.
- The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 will introduce a centralised vetting system for people working with children and vulnerable people from October 2009.
Changes which have not yet been given a date for their implementation:
- An Equality Act – the Government's commitment to introducing an Equality Act which will reform discrimination law was confirmed in the Queen's speech on 3 December 2008. Although an Equality Bill was published in the Summer (see Howes Percival Newsflash of 30 June 2008) and the Government's response to the consultation on that bill was published in July (see Howes Percival Newsflash of 23 July 2008), most of the details of the proposed Act and confirmation of when it is likely to become law have not yet been given by the Government.
- Tips and the National Minimum Wage – currently service charges, tips, gratuities and cover charges which are paid by the employer to employees through the payroll, can count towards an employer's obligation to pay the National Minimum Wage. The Government wants to remove this provision and has commenced a public consultation on how this could be achieved. It is therefore likely that details of any new law to implement this proposal will not be published until after the consultation period has ended on 16 February 2009.
- Temporary Agency Workers Directive – the Government has until December 2011 to implement the Directive (see Howes Percival Newsflash of 24 October 2008 for more details). In May of this year, the Government stated that its intention was to introduce legislation to give effect to this Directive in the 2008/2009 Parliamentary Session. However, employer's organisations are pushing for the latest possible implementation date. There is now some uncertainty as to whether the Government will respond to these concerns and delay introducing legislation until the 2009 or even 2010 Parliamentary Sessions.