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Every year changes apply to employment law and therefore below is a quick summary of important changes employers should be aware of which have now come into force.
National Minimum Wage Rates
The following national minimum wage rates now are in force:
When assessing whether an employee has received the national minimum wage, employers need to look at the pay reference period which is the same period when an employee is paid i.e. weekly or monthly. The maximum pay reference period is 1 month. With commission based employees therefore it is important to look at their salary when the sales were made although payment for that commission is usually the following month i.e. paid in arrears. Any commission earned in one month but paid in the next qualifies as them having received payment in the month it was earned. For example, if an employee earns commission in August but does not receive the money until September, for national minimum wage purposes, they will have received the minimum for the month of August, despite it being paid in September. This is provided the payment exceeds the national minimum wage on the next pay reference period.
Right to Time Off to Accompany Employees to Antenatal Appointments
Employees who are either husband or civil partner of the pregnant employee now have the right to attend unpaid antenatal appointments with the pregnant employee. There is no qualification period and therefore the right applies to all employees in this situation. The right to time off is up to two appointments with a maximum of 6.5 hours allotted to each appointment. Employees should provide their employer with the date and time of any appointment, the time of day in which they wish to start the time off and end. An employer can ask that the appointments are made at either the start or end of the working day to try and avoid disruption to the working day. This right also applies to agency workers after they have completed the 12 week qualifying period.
Other changes to note
Equal Pay Audit
The Government has issued a new section (139A) into the Equality Act 2010 enabling equal pay audits to be made requiring an Employment Tribunal to make an order for an Equal Pay Audit where it finds an employer has breached equal pay legislation. It is designed to identify action to be taken to avoid equal pay breaches occurring or continuing. An equal pay breach includes a breach of an equality clause and a breach of the sex discrimination provision in relation to pay.
Prescribed Persons for Public Interest Disclosures
In addition there have been changes to the list of prescribed persons under the public interest disclosure legislation. The new list includes:
If employers have specific lists of who prescribed people are within their Whistleblowing policy then changes will need to be made. Alternatively if Whistleblowing policies simply refer to a “list of prescribed persons” then no amendments will be needed as the list can be obtained from the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2014.
Robert Titcombe, Solicitor