Just last month it was confi rmed that the default retirement age of 65 will be phased out and abolished completely from 1 October 2011. The changes mean that employers wishing to use the statutory retirement procedure before it is abolished will need to give notice to employees before 31 March 2011 and ensure that the retirement is completed by 1 October 2011. After 1 October, employers will have to justify retirement according to the circumstances of their workplace.

High on the agenda for change this year is “swapping” maternity leave for paternity leave. Although new regulations dealing with paternity leave came into force in April 2010, they only apply to parents of babies born (and adoptive parents notifi ed of a match) on or after 3 April 2011. These regulations give eligible employees (usually fathers) the right to take up to 26 weeks’ paternity leave, if the mother (or primary adopter) returns to work early. The Government sees this as an “interim measure” in extending fl exible working rights further. We will monitor take up rates with interest.

Regulations offering additional protection to agency workers will come into force from 1 October 2011. The key requirement of the regulations is basic terms and conditions for agency workers equivalent to direct recruits of the hirer.

The Bribery Act comes into force in April 2011, introducing a strict liability offence for companies that fail to prevent their employees giving or receiving bribes. To avoid criminal liability, employers must put into place “adequate procedures” to prevent bribery.