The following important employment law changes came into effect on 1 October 2014:
- Increases to national minimum wage
- Mandatory equal pay audits
- Time off to accompany pregnant partner to antenatal appointments
- Removal of qualifying period for unfair dismissal where dismissal connected to employee's membership of the Reserved Forces
Increases to national minimum wage
The following national minimum wage rates came into effect on 1 October 2014:
- Adult rate (21 years and over) will rise by three percent to GBP6.50 an hour (GBP6.31 in 2013/14)
- Development rate (18-20 year olds) will rise by two percent to GBP5.13 an hour (GBP5.03 in 2013/14)
- Under 18 (16-17 year olds, a worker who has not attained the age of 18 but is no longer of compulsory school age) will rise by two percent to GBP3.79 an hour (GBP3.72 in 2013/14)
- Apprentices under 19 years of age, (or over 19 years and in first year of apprenticeship) will rise by two percent to GBP2.73 an hour (GBP2.68 in 2013/14)
- Accommodation offset (maximum deduction per day from NMW where employer provides accommodation) will rise by 3.5 percent to GBP5.08 per day (GBP4.91 in 2013/14)
Mandatory equal pay audits
From 1 October 2014, an employer who loses an equal pay claim or a claim for sex discrimination in relation to pay, e.g. discrimination in respect of a discretionary bonus payment, may be ordered by the Tribunal to carry out an equal pay audit. The audit must identify any gender related pay differences and include a plan to address any breaches of equal pay law. Not only could this be a significant administrative burden for employers but the results of the audit will need to be published on the employer's website for three years and employees who are covered by the audit will need to be specifically notified of where they can obtain a copy. Please click HERE for a copy of our recent client alert on mandatory equal pay audits.
Time off to accompany pregnant partners to antenatal appointments
From 1 October 2014, qualifying employees and agency workers will be entitled to unpaid time off work to accompany a pregnant woman to up to two antenatal appointments, capped at 6.5 hours per appointment. BIS has published Guidance to employers on this new right, which can be found HERE.
Removal of qualifying period for unfair dismissal where dismissal is connected to an employee's membership of the Reserved Forces
From 1 October 2014, the two year qualifying period for unfair dismissal will be removed in situations where the dismissal is connected with the employee's membership of the Reserve Forces. This will only apply to those employees whose effective date of termination falls on or after 1 October 2014.