1st October 2014 employment law changes for businesses.
National Minimum Wage: adult rate increases to £6.50; 18-20-year-old rate increases to £5.13; 16-17-year-old rate increases to £3.79; apprentice rate increases to £2.73. HMRC’s publicity surrounding the 2014 increases stresses that employers who fail to meet their obligations to pay the national minimum wage will face fines of up to £20,000 per employee and with the Labour Party announcing plans to raise the NMW to £8 an hour by 2020.
Antenatal rights for fathers and partners: employees and qualifying agency workers get the right to unpaid leave to accompany a pregnant woman to antenatal appointments. It’s capped at 6½ hours per appointment.
Equal pay audits: where an employer loses an equal pay case, tribunals will be able to order the employer to carry out, and publish, an equal pay audit.
Whistleblowing: there is an updated list of ‘prescribed persons’ that can legitimately receive whistleblowing complaints (subject to certain conditions) for qualifying disclosures post-1 October 2014.
Reserve forces: an employee who is dismissed because he or she is a member of the Reserves will not need to have accrued two years’ service before bringing a claim for unfair dismissal, and there is increased financial help for employers of reservists who are called out for service.
At present, when called up, military reservists are paid directly by the Ministry of Defence – and employers can claim expenses in respect of additional costs incurred whilst replacing the reservist (to a maximum of £110 per day). From 1st October, small and medium employers will also be able to receive up to £500 per month for each full month a reservist is absent from work (reduced pro rata for parts of a month, or part-time workers).
Corporate governance: the UK Corporate Governance Code has been updated to take effect from 1 October 2014. Changes include updating requirements in relation to disclosure and shareholder approval of directors’ pay. More information can be found at the Financial Reporting Council’s website.