Continue reading for an overview of what legislative changes have taken effect from the beginning of this October.

Maximum week’s pay for compensation payments

The maximum amount of a “week’s pay” increased from £350 to £380 on 1st October 2009. This will affect all compensation payments to which the week’s pay is relevant, including statutory redundancy payments and the basic award for unfair dismissal.

Work and Families (Increase of Maximum Amount) Order 2009/1903.

National Minimum Wage (NMW)

Increases in the hourly rates of the NMW which took effect on 1st October 2009 are:

  • Standard adult rate – £5.80 per hour (increased from £5.73)
  • Developmental rate for 18 to 21 year olds – £4.83 per hour (increased from £4.77)
  • Young workers rate for any worker who has not attained the age of 18 but to has ceased to be of compulsory school age (but is not an apprentice) – £3.57 per hour (increased from £3.53)
  • Accommodation offset rate: £4.51 (increased from £4.46)

Tips, services charges and gratuities must not be taken into account when calculating the NMW as from 1st October 2009. Prior to this date, they could be taken into account where they had been “paid by the employer” through the payroll, but not where they had been paid by customers directly to the workers or were paid to a “tronc master” (such as the head waiter in a restaurant).

The National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 (Amendment) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1902).

BIS has published a voluntary code of practice on discretionary tips and service charges. This code encourages restaurant owners to tell customers exactly how to deal with discretionary service charges and tips.

BIS Code of Practice.

The Supreme Court

The House of Lords has been replaced by the Supreme Court as the highest appeal court in the UK. Supreme Court practice and procedure will be governed by the Supreme Court Rules 2009 (SI 2009/1603). The Supreme Court Rules will apply to appeals which were proceeding, and petitions for leave which were lodged in the House of Lords before 1st October 2009. These reforms have the effect of separating the judicial function formerly carried out by the House of Lords from its parliamentary function. The Court will hear appeals on arguable points of law of general public importance and act as a final court of appeal in civil cases for the whole of the UK and in criminal cases for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It will also assume the devolution jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council though the Council will retain its function as the final court of appeal for Commonwealth countries.

Data Protection

All data controllers (i.e. processors of personal data) must register with the Information Commissioner and pay a prescribed fee, both upon initial registration and then on an annual basis in order to remain registered. Changes to the fee structure for the registration process are effective from 1st October 2009. The current flat fee of £35 will be replaced by a two-tiered fee. The fee rises to £500 for data controllers (a) with an annual turnover of £25.9m or more and 250 or more members of staff, and (b) public authorities with 250 or more members of staff. There is an exception for charities and small occupational pension schemes who will continue to pay a fee of £35. Other data controllers will also continue to pay a £35 fee.

The Data Protection Act Notification and Notification Fees) (Amendments) Regulations 2009/1677.

Points-based immigration

From 5th October 2009, phase 3 of Tier 4 of the points-based immigration system will be launched by the UK Border Agency. Tier 4 is the route for overseas students to study at UK educational institutions. Phase 3 of Tier 4 concerns the voluntary trial period of the sponsorship management of Tier 4 sponsors, which allows them to continue using visa letters to issue confirmation of acceptance for studies until February 2010.

UK Borders Agency – Tier 4

Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults

On 12 October 2009, the “Independent Barring Board” will come into force. This centralised vetting and barring system for people working with children and vulnerable adults will use two new lists: the “children” and “vulnerable adults” barring lists (these will replace the current three barring lists – POCA, POVA and List 99). It will only be possible to access information from these lists by an enhanced Criminal Record Bureau check.

Further information can be obtained from the Criminal Records Bureau (Vetting and Barring Scheme FAQs).