The following changes in legislation relevant to employers will come into force in October and November 2008.

New National Minimum Wage rates

From 1 October, the new national minimum wage hourly rates will be:

· Workers aged 22 and over: £5.73

· Workers aged 18 to 21: £4.77

· Workers aged 16 and 17: £3.53

Conflicts of interest

The provisions of the Companies Act 2006 dealing with directors' conflicts of interest come into force on 1 October. For more information see our e-bulletins of 3 September and 30 September.

Changes to maternity and adoption rights

For employees whose babies are due on or after 5 October changes to the Sex Discrimination act mean that there will no longer be any distinction between Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) and Additional Maternity Leave (AML) in relation to pregnancy or maternity discrimination.

Employees who are due to give birth or adopt on or after 5 October will also, by virtue of the Maternity and Parental Leave Etc and the Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2008, have the right to enjoy the same terms and conditions during AML and additional adoption leave (AAL) as during ordinary maternity and adoption leave. This means that the right to receive non-pay benefits such as company car and accrual of contractual holiday pay and to accrue seniority and length of service will now continue during AML and AAL. For more information on the changes see our recent employment bulletin. There is an exception for pension and some other employment-related benefit schemes which will continue during AML only for so long as employees receive statutory or contractual maternity pay. For more details see our recent pensions bulletin.

Statutory sick pay for agency workers

The Fixed Term Workers Regulations will be amended from 27 October so that agency workers on contracts of three months or less will be entitled to receive statutory sick pay.

Immigration

Tiers 2 and 5 of the new points based migration scheme will come into force on 18 November. Tier 2 applies to skilled workers filling a gap in the UK market. Employers wishing to employ a Tier 2 worker will need to apply for a sponsor license. The Borders and Immigration Agency has produced Codes of Practice to assist employers sponsoring Tier 2 workers and revised guidance on sponsor applications. Tier 5 applies to individuals travelling temporarily, primarily for non-economic reasons.