Employment Law Update

Employment Law Update

There are a number of recent changes to employment law that all employers will need to be aware of. Make sure that you have included all the changes in your policies, procedures and information that you share with staff, clients and customers and other stakeholders, and if you would like any assistance in ensuring that you are complying with these changes, contact us for more advice and guidance on implementation on info@solo-consultancy.com.

1. The Bribery Act

The piece of legislation was introduced in October 2010, and covers the following areas:
• Strict liability for corporates and partnerships of failing to prevent bribery occurring within the organisation – employers must have ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent this happening
• Extra territorial jurisdiction covers the activities of any corporate or partnership not only within the UK but in relation to its business and activities overseas
• Associated persons means that corporates and partnerships can be found to be in breach of the Act if a person associated with the corporate or partnership carries out an act of bribery on their behalf
• Private bribery remains illegal as is a separate offence of bribery of a foreign public official
• Improper performance covers failure to perform one’s duties in line with a relevant expectation (i.e. performing functions in good faith, impartially and importing a position of trust)
• Indirect bribery prohibits all corrupt payments
• Individual liability extends the liability from corporate entities to individuals who may be found to have acted in breach of the Act.
• Facilitation payments, all payments no matter how small or routine are illegal under the Act
• Public procurement- serious potential risk that any corporate convicted under this Act will be debarred from participating in future public contracts

The bottom line is to adopt a policy of zero tolerance and ensure that all your staff, contractors and clients are aware of this.

2. Resolving Workplace Disputes – government response to consultation

The following bullet points summarise the main changes that the government is planning to take forward as part of the new bill on the resolution of workplace disputes:

• A commitment to introduce Early Conciliation as the first part of the Employment Tribunal process. All claimants will be required to submit the details of their claim to ACAS in the first instance and will then be offered the option of engaging in early conciliation

• Mediation will also be given greater emphasis and the creation of regional mediation networks will be piloted

• Reassurance will be offered with reference to Compromise Agreements. A standard text will be developed to reduce costs and uncertainties for employers, and a system of ‘protected conversations’ will be introduced

• Tribunals will be modernised in line with recommendations for the Underhill Fundamental Review currently taking place

• The Unfair Dismissal qualification period will be extended form one to two years

• Financial penalties will be levied against employers who are found to be in breach of employment law, and the penalty paid to the exchequer

• It is planned to implement a rapid resolution process in order to settle low value, straightforward claims

3. Agency Workers Regulations

The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 covers a far-ranging group of people including PAYE temps, agency workers and workers who supply their services through an ‘umbrella organisation’. Some benefits are immediately applied to agency workers; others are supplied after a 12 week qualification period. They are entitled to equal treatment in respect of:
• Pay
• The duration of working time
• Night work
• Rest periods
• Rest breaks
• Annual leave

There is also a complex list of anti-avoidance provisions, breaches of which may result in fines of up to £5000 for an employer.

Equal pay is the most important element of the regulations and for the purposes of the regulations, this includes:
• Overtime
• Shift allowance
• Unsociable hours premium
• Fee commission payments
• Performance-related bonuses
The regulations exclude:
• Occupational sick pay
• Company pension scheme
• Share option schemes
• Loans
• Expenses
• Health/life insurance
• Financial participation schemes
• Family-leave-related pay above the statutory minimum

Agency workers will be entitled to paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments after the 12 week qualifying period and hirers must complete a risk assessment for pregnant agency workers.

‘Day one’ rights for agency workers include the following:
• Collective facilities (e.g. car parks, childcare facilities, canteens)
• Right to apply for vacant posts (other than in cases where an internal freeze of posts in place, and vacancies arise as a result of restructuring)
• Right not to suffer detriment as a result of asserting their rights under the regulations
• Unfair dismissal (if the reason for dismissal was related to the Regulations)

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By | 2012-01-27T09:39:31+00:00 January 27th, 2012|Categories: Human Resources, News, Solo Consultancy Ltd, Uncategorized|0 Comments

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