What’s coming up in employment law this April?
Continue reading for an overview of what legislative changes to expect and prepare for this coming April.
Maternity Rights and Sex Discrimination (in employment)
The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (Amendment) Regulations 2008 amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 to:
- Amend the definition of discrimination on grounds of pregnancy or maternity so as to remove any element of comparison with a person who has not become pregnant or who is on maternity leave;
- Widen the definition of harassment, making harassment “related to sex” of the victim or any other person unlawful;
- Impose a new liability on employers for harassment in circumstances where the employer has knowingly failed to act to protect the employee from repeated harassment by third parties;
- Afford any woman whose expected week of childbirth begins on or after 5 October 2008, the right to the same terms and conditions of employment during additional maternity leave as she currently enjoys during ordinary maternity leave, other than as regards wages and salary.
In force 6 April 2008.
Sex Discrimination (supply of goods and services)
The Sex Discrimination (Amendment of Legislation) Regulations 2008 will make changes to the existing anti-sex discrimination legislation relating to the provision of goods and services. These regulations implement the EU principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services which are available to the public. In force 6 April 2008.
Information and Consultation Obligations
The Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 (which give certain rights to employees to request arrangements are established to enable them to be informed and consulted by their employer) are extended to all undertakings with 50 or more employees in the UK. In force 6 April 2008.
The Occupational Pension Schemes (Consultation by Employers and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2006 and the Occupational Pension Schemes (Consultation by Employers) (Modification for Multi-employer Schemes) Regulations 2006 which require employers to consult with affected employees when proposing to make certain changes to their pension arrangements, will be extended to undertakings with 50 or more employees in the UK.
The sort of changes upon which an employer must consult include a reduction in the accrual rate for benefits in a defined benefit (final salary) scheme and a reduction in employer contributions to a defined contribution (money purchase) scheme, including a stakeholder or personal pension scheme. In force 6 April 2008.
Health and Safety
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 introduces a new offence of corporate manslaughter focusing on collective failings of a company’s senior management. In force 6 April 2008.
Statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay will increase to £117.18 per week. Statutory sick pay will increase to £75.40 per week. In force 1 April 2008.
The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 (Amendment) Regulations 2008 make two changes. First, where a transfer of Government functions is effected through legislation, continuity of employment of the transferred employees is preserved for the purposes of calculating length of service under regulation 32 of the Age Regulations (which provides that benefits dependent on length of service will not be unlawful if they discriminate on the grounds of age). Secondly, the Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution) Regulations 2004 are amended so that time may be extended to make an Employment Tribunal claim under the Age Regulations in a case where the statutory dispute resolution procedure applies. In force 6 April 2008.
Agencies and Employment Businesses
The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2007 increase protection for work seekers, and reduce regulatory burdens faced by employment businesses. The changes are relatively minor and include the following: a work-seeker who takes up “additional services” (such as transport or accommodation) from an agency or employment business will be able to give 5 days’ notice of cancellation of those services without penalty; an employment business sending a work-seeker on an assignment of less than 5 days is exempted from providing detailed information; and agencies can no longer charge fees for inclusion of information about the work-seeker in a publication – this will impact on agencies who take fees at casting sessions held by talent-spotting agencies. In force 6 April 2008.
The Immigration and Nationality (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 set out fees applicable to various applications and processes specified in the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) (Amendment) Order 2008. The Regulations came into force on 29 February 2008 with the exception of specific regulations that relate to entry clearance applications, which come into force on 1 April 2008.