Employment Update 2011: 8 key issues to look out for this year

1. Additional Paternity Leave:  

  • will apply to parents of babies born on or after 3 April 2011
  • up to 26 weeks’ leave to be taken between 20 weeks and 12 months of the child’s birth – can be taken only once mother returns to work  

2. Retirement Age:  

  • default retirement age to be abolished with effect from 1 October 2011  
  • age discrimination and unfair dismissal to have a compulsory retirement age unless it can be objectively justified  
  • Exception for insured benefits at 65 

3. Agency Workers:  

  • from 1 October 2011, agency workers will be entitled to the same basic working conditions as if they were recruited directly, once they have been working for 12 weeks  
  • continuity only broken if the worker is given substantially different work or there is a six week break

4. Bribery Act:  

  • introduces a suite of new bribery offences and is expected to come into force later this year. Before then, it is crucial to review existing anti-corruption policies and procedures to ensure that they are “adequate”  

5. FSA Remuneration Code:  

  • new Code in force since 1 January 2011. Now applies to over 2,500 FSA regulated firms

6. Compromise agreements:  

  • from 6 April 2011, income tax to be withheld at marginal rate (not basic rate) on taxable termination payments  

7. Disciplinary hearings:  

  • employees may be entitled to legal representation at disciplinary hearings, if the outcome would be career ending. Consider, also, reasonable adjustments for disabled employees  

8. Employment tribunal reform:  

  • consultation is currently underway on various potential reforms. Suggestions include increase in unfair dismissal qualifying period from one year to two and the introduction of fees for tribunal claims