17 June 2013 DBS checks become ‘portable’ Disclosure and Barring Service checks (formerly CRB checks) have now become portable between employers, following the enactment of the Protection of Freedoms Act. Individuals are now able to register once for a DBS check which will then be automatically updated and available for organisations to check instantly online. 25 June 2013 New requirements when making qualifying disclosures under whistleblowing legislation Changes have been made to the current whistleblowing legislation, so that qualifying disclosures must now be made in the public interest (in addition to the worker making the disclosure having a reasonable belief). 25 June 2013 Unfair dismissal for political opinions or affiliations The two year qualifying period for unfair dismissal will not apply where the main reason for dismissal is the employee’s political opinions or affiliations. 25 June 2013 Caste discrimination The Equality Act has been amended to the extent that the Government must put forward legislation to outlaw caste discrimination. 29 July 2013 Two-stage fee charging structure in the employment tribunal A new two-stage charging structure has come into force pursuant to which claimants are required to pay an ‘issue fee’ when they submit their claim or appeal, followed by a ‘hearing fee’ prior to a hearing. The amount of each fee will depend on the type of claim, with remissions available for claimants who cannot afford the fees. 29 July 2013 Revised Employment Tribunal Rules The new Employment Tribunal Rules have come into force, which aim to simplify the previous rules to ensure that they provide a framework to manage cases more flexibly, efficiently, proportionately and consistently. 29 July 2013 Amendments to unfair dismissal and settlement agreements The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act contains provisions that result in pre-termination negotiations being inadmissible in unfair dismissal claims and also provide for compromise agreements to be re-named “settlement agreements”. 2 Employment Legislation Timetable 1 September 2013 Employee-shareholder contracts introduced A new type of employment contract has been introduced, under which employees will be given shares in the business in exchange for waiving certain employment rights. 1 October 2013 Changes to the Companies Act to promote transparency in gender balance Changes to the Companies Act now make it a requirement for companies to produce a standalone, strategic report for each financial year, separate from the directors’ report, including a requirement for quoted companies to state the gender split for directors, managers and employees. 1 October 2013 Removal of third-party harassment and discrimination questionnaire provisions from the Equality Act The Government has repealed the third-party harassment and statutory discrimination questionnaire provisions of the Equality Act, with the aim of reducing red-tape for businesses. 1 October 2013 Enhanced shareholder rights and directors’ duties The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act has introduced changes to the way in which quoted companies disclose directors’ remuneration and makes provision for shareholder approval of company directors’ remuneration reports. 1 October 2013 TUPE regulations for interaction with auto-enrolment New Regulations have come into force in relation to the way in which TUPE interacts with pensions auto-enrolment. A transferee will now be able to satisfy its TUPE obligations by paying contributions equal to those paid by the transferor immediately before the transfer, instead of matching employees’ contributions. 2014/2015 tax year Pension reform and rise in personal allowance The Chancellor announced major changes to the way that members of defined contribution pension schemes can access their pensions savings. From April 2015, members at normal retirement age will be able to access their pension fund in full without the need to purchase an annuity. The personal allowance for those born after 5 April 1948 will rise from its previously announced level of £10,000 for 2014-15 to £10,500 for 2015-16. At the same time, the basic rate limit will be reduced from £31,865 to £31,785. However, this represents a tax saving for all taxpayers, as the higher rate threshold will increase by 1% in each of those two years. mayer brown 3 31 January 2014 Proposal to change TUPE Regulations Having previously proposed to completely remove the service provision change rules, the Government has now confirmed that the current rules will remain in place. However, an amendment to TUPE will be made to make clear that the activities carried on after the change in service provision must be “fundamentally or essentially the same” as those carried on before it. The majority of changes came into force on 31 January 2014 with others taking effect at a later date: • the 14 day time limit to provide employee liability information was extended to 28 days from 1 May 2014; and • since 31 July 2014, micro-businesses are allowed to inform and consult affected employees directly when there is no recognised union or representatives. 6 April 2014 Financial penalties for employers for breach of employment rights with ‘aggravating features’ Employers who lose an employment tribunal case will pay a financial penalty if the breach of the employment right in question has “one or more aggravating features”. 6 April 2014 Early conciliation to be required before claim can be made ACAS introduced its new mandatory early conciliation process. The new system was brought into force under provisions contained in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act. 6 April 2014 Discrimination Questionnaires to be abolished Section 66 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 repealed section 138 of the Equality Act 2010 to abolish statutory discrimination questionnaires. 6 April 2014 Unfair dismissal and redundancy payments to rise The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal rose from £74,200 to £76,574. The maximum amount of a week’s pay, used to calculate redundancy payments or various awards has risen from £450 to £464. 7 April 2014 Increase to the levels of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay The standard rates for statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, additional statutory paternity pay and adoption pay went up from £136.78 to £138.18. 6 May 2014 Early conciliation made mandatory The mandatory early conciliation provided for in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act came into force. 4 Employment Legislation Timetable 30 June 2014 Extension of the right to request flexible working The Flexible Working Regulations came into force on 30 June 2014. Under the new Regulations a request for flexible working must be made in writing, be dated and state whether the employee has previously made a request. A request is made on the day it is received by the employer. There is a requirement for 26 weeks’ continuous service to make a request. The right to flexible working has been extended to all employees (with the requisite service). The employer must notify the employee of its decision within three months, unless an extension is granted. Autumn 2014 Extreme tactics in industrial disputes review On 4 April 2014 the Government launched an independent review into the law governing industrial disputes (alleged use of extreme tactics and the effectiveness of current law preventing inappropriate or intimidatory actions in trade disputes). A report will be published in Autumn. 1 October 2014 National minimum wage increases The Government accepted the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission and announced increases in the national minimum wage. The standard adult rate (for workers aged 21 and over) will rise by 3%, the youth development rate (for workers aged between 18 and 20) by 2% and for young workers (for workers aged under 18 but above the compulsory school age who are not apprentices) by 2% as well. 1 October 2014 Compulsory pay audits following breach of equal pay law The Government will introduce regulations giving tribunals the power to order an employer to carry out an equal pay audit where it is found to have breached equal pay law. 21 November 2014 Zero Hours Contracts Bill There is to be a second reading of the Zero Hours Contracts Private Members’ Bill on 21 November 2014. To be introduced New Government funded Health and Work service late 2014 The Government will introduce the Health and Work Service on a phased basis from late 2014. It is expected to be fully up and running by May 2015 and provide a state funded assessment by occupational health professionals for employees who are off sick for four weeks or more. It will also provide case management for employees with complex needs to facilitate their return to work. 2014-2015 Childcare payments The Childcare Payments Bill 2014-2015 introduces a new tax-free childcare scheme to support eligible parents with childcare costs. It was mentioned in the Queen’s Speech 2014. 5 April 2015 ‘Flexible’ maternity and paternity leave to come into force Changes will be made to maternity and paternity leave to give parents more flexibility as to when they take time off. Amongst other changes, parents will be able to share 50 of 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave and 37 of 39 weeks’ statutory maternity pay. As long as these limits are not exceeded, leave can be taken consecutively or at the same time. Summer 2015 Caste Discrimination Section 97 of The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act amended the Equality Act 2010 to enable the Government to provide that caste is an aspect of race, therefore making caste discrimination unlawful. However, the Government Equalities Office announced in July 2013 that before this power is implemented, there would be a full public consultation in order to make sure that the legislation is appropriate and fit for purpose. It is anticipated that a draft order will be introduced by the summer of 2015. 6 April 2016 Minimum pay threshold for migrants wanting to settle in the UK The Government plans to introduce a minimum pay threshold of £35,000 a year for skilled workers under the Tier 2 (general) and Tier 2 (sportsperson) immigration routes who want to settle in the UK. November 2018 Equalisation of state pension age for women The state pension age for women will be equalised with the state pension age for men by November 2018. The equalisation timetable for women started increasing from 6 April 2010 in order to account for this change. March 2019 State pension age rises to 66 years The Pensions Act raises the state pension age from 65 to 66 years to reflect the ageing nature of the population. The rise in the state pension age to 66 for men and women begins gradually from March 2019 until September 2020.