5 matters to be aware of in the coming year
There have been some dramatic changes in the Legal environment of employment law this year and employers would be well advised to take a close look at their policies, procedures and protocols, to ensure that they are up to date. The new Conservative Government’s policy changes, unhindered by the restraint of the coalition government are dramatic and may be considered onerous from an HR perspective.
The National Living wage
The introduction of the National Living Wage presents a big change to the old minimum wage and will require employers to introduce changes to ensure that staff over the age of 25 are receiving the new figure of £7.20 per hour. This must be in place by 1 April. The penalty for paying less than the National Living wage is being doubled from 100% of the arrears to 200% of the arrears, capped at £20K per employee. Under 25 the National Minimum Wage is £6.70 per hour.
The Gender Gap
Larger employers are no longer able to hide any discrepancies regarding payment between the sexes. Whilst it has long been illegal to pay people different amounts for the same job in relation to gender, it is now compulsory for employers of 250 or more staff, to publish information about differences in pay between men and women including bonus payment.
There is still some ambiguity as to where this information is to be published and what the penalty will be for failure to publish but this will be an extra burden on the HR departments of large employers.
Exclusivity Clauses and the Zero Hour contract
Employees can now bring claims against Employers who try to insist on exclusivity whilst providing zero hours’ contracts. Exclusivity was the quid pro quo that Employers gave up when the zero hour contract was introduced, however many employers refused to accept employees having other jobs. Now, should an employer insist on exclusivity or should an employer victimise a worker for having additional work, the employee may have grounds to commence Employment Tribunal proceedings.
The government has granted itself apprenticeship exclusivity. Unless an apprenticeship is a statutory apprenticeship backed by the government apprenticeship scheme, it cannot be called an apprenticeship. Whilst this is a “rose by any other name” argument, those employees advertising for trainees or junior workers need to be careful not to use the A word in its advert. The idea behind this is to encourage employers to use the state backed apprenticeship scheme and with the payment enticements and funding offered by the government scheme, it is certainly worth considering. However, there can only be one type of Apprenticeship from now on and that is the officially recognised type.
Finally, we are on almost the last tranche of introducing pensions to all employees. The introduction of work place pensions is in place for all but the smallest employers now and those that have yet to introduce the pension must do so before the end of next year. It is important that you are aware of when it is your turn and have matters in place to ensure that your pension is compliant with the legislation.