Employment Law Update – April

Various bills became law just before the dissolution of the current Parliament but have yet to make it onto the statute book. The outcome of the general election is likely to influence whether the following proposed employment law changes are a priority or not for the next Government.

1. Gender Pay Reporting
By Spring 2016 both the private and public sector who employ 250 or more employees are under a duty to issue a report on the issue of gender pay reporting in their companies.

2. Financial Penalties in the Employment Tribunal
It is proposed to introduce financial penalties to Employers who fail to pay Employment Tribunal awards and settlement sums. The penalty is likely to be 50% of any unpaid sum up to a maximum of £5,000. In the event that the Employer pays the unpaid sum and penalty within 14 days, then the amount of the penalty will be reduced by 50%. Unfortunately the Secretary of State is the beneficiary of the penalty fine and not the Employee.

3. Limiting the number of postponements of hearings in the Employment Tribunal
New Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure suggest a limit to the number of postponements of hearings requested by either party to just two. Any additional request or any application made less than 7 days before a hearing will only be granted by the Employment Tribunal in exceptional circumstances.

4. Changes to Zero Hours Contracts
It is proposed to ban exclusivity clauses in future zero hour contracts and to make it unlawful for Employees to be subjected to a detriment on the grounds that they also work elsewhere. The Labour Party has this week also suggested banning zero hour contracts for workers who have irregular hours and to implement a new right to a permanent contract after 12 weeks. The question is whether Employers will be able to get around this by offering part time hours? No doubt this will cause difficulties and create interesting case law on this topical subject.

5. Changes to Discrimination Procedures
The Government has announced its intention to remove the power of the Employment Tribunal to make wider recommendations in discrimination cases where there are potential discriminatory issues and practices which are due to be abolished from 1 October 2015.

6. Changes to National Minimum Wage penalty calculations
There are proposals to change the calculation of the maximum penalty (currently £20,000) that an Employer can be required to pay in the event of persistently underpaying its workers. It is proposed that the maximum penalty is to be calculated on a ‘per-worker’ basis as opposed to a ‘per-notice’ basis.

7. Repayment of Exit payments in the public sector
There are also proposals for the Secretary of State to make Regulations making it mandatory for those leaving the public sector with exit payments to repay all or part of the sum if they return within a specific period of time to the public sector either as an employee or contractor.

If you would like more information on how these minimum wage increases affect you, speak to our Employment Solicitor, Steven Eckett on 020 7998 7777 or email him at steven.eckett@bloomsbury-law.com.

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