Work to rule: employment law

Government changes to job laws affect the whole job landscape. Personnel Today outlines the essential changes you should know...

Government changes to job laws affect the whole job landscape. Personnel Today outlines the essential changes you should
know about

Consultation closes on discrimination legislation
(24 January 2003)
Closing date of the DTI's consultation on discrimination legislation - covers sexual orientation, religion, disability, gender and race

Consultation closes on employment legislation commencement dates (30 January 2003)
Westminster will decide whether to set commencement dates (annually, twice-yearly, or quarterly) on which all employment regulation will come into force, or to keep the status quo, so that new employment rules may come into force at any time in the year

Consultation closes on extending Working Time regulations (31 January 2003)
Closing date of DTI's consultation on measures to implement directive 2000/34/ec of the European Parliament and of the Council, amending council Directive 93/104/EC concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time to cover sectors and activities excluded from that directive
Amendments to Tupe regulations (early 2003)
The DTI is addressing the failure of current Tupe - Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) - regulations to protect the pension schemes of workers who are transferred to a new employer, plus other issues, such as clarifying the application of Tupe to service providers

Limits on employment tribunal awards increase
(1 February 2003)

Limits on employment tribunal awards increase. For unfair dismissal claims, this applies where the EDT is on or after 1 February 2003 - not the date of the hearing
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) (April 2003)
The flat rate of SMP will increase to £100 per week or 90% of average earnings - whichever is lower. The period of maternity pay will be increased to 26 weeks, 90% of average earnings for six weeks, the 20 week balance at either 90% of average earnings or £100 - whichever is lower

Employee Share Schemes Act 2002 (6 April 2003)
New legislation to encourage private companies to introduce employee share ownership is introduced. The new laws also provide tax relief for share incentive schemes

New Flexible Working regulations come into force
(6 April 2003)
Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002 outline the procedure to be followed by employers where requests for flexible working are made under the new right for employees to request a variation to their contractual terms and conditions

Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2002  (6 April 2003)
The amendment Regulations implement those provisions of the Young Workers Directive (94/33/EC) from which the UK had previously opted out. They prohibit young workers from working more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week and at night between 10 pm and 6 am, except in limited circumstances

Adoption Leave (April 2003)
The government is to introduce the right to paid adoption leave. Legislators recently sought comments on the proposed framework for adoption leave

Maternity Pay and Leave Framework (April 2003)
Labour has produced a simplified framework regarding maternity pay and maternity leave covering issues such as notice and length of maternity leave. Comments were sought on the draft framework

Paternity Leave (April 2003)
Fathers will have the right to two weeks of paternity leave. This will be paid at the same flat rate as statutory maternity pay. The government recently sought comments on the proposed framework for paternity leave
Equal Pay Questionnaire introduced (April 2003)
The Employment Act 2002, section 42 amends the Equal Pay Act 1970 to introduce an equal pay questionnaire in employment tribunal equal pay cases, making it easier for individuals to request key information from their employer when deciding whether to bring a case. Although completion of the questionnaire is not compulsory, failure to reply, or evasive replies, may lead to inferences being drawn by a tribunal

New Employment Agency regulations (Spring 2003)
Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2002 come into force. Under the new rules organisations offering work-finding services are required to make it clear whether they operate as employment agencies or employment businesses

Flexible Work (During 2003)
It is expected that the government will implement the right to request to work flexibly and the duty for employers to consider the request seriously. The right is expected to apply to employees with at least six months' service with children under the age of six (18 in respect of disabled children). A process surrounding the request and the duty to consider will be set out

New Race Discrimination regulations  (19 July 2003)
Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 come into force. They implement the EC Race and Ethnic Origin Directive. Changes include a new definition of indirect race discrimination, a change to the burden of proof in race discrimination cases and the introduction of express provisions prohibiting harassment on grounds of race or ethnic or national origins

Working Time: 48-hour opt-out recommendation due (November 2003)
Deadline for the European Commission's report and proposals on the 48-hour week individual opt-out exemption

Reforms to the employment tribunal system come into force (Late 2003)
Changes to the employment tribunal system, introduced through the Employment Act 2002, take effect. These include a fixed conciliation period before disputes can be taken to a tribunal; minimum internal disciplinary and grievance procedures within
Dispute Resolution (Late 2003)
Will aim to focus on resolving disputes in the workplace rather than in tribunals. Places an obligation on employees to raise grievances with their employers before applying to a tribunal. It will include the introduction of a statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedure and statuatory grievance procedure

Sexual orientation discrimination regulations (1 December 2003)
Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 come into force. They make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation in employment and vocational training

Religious discrimination legislation (2 December 2003)
The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 have made it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of religion or belief in both employment and vocational training

New equal pay regulation (December 2003)
Equal Pay (Amendment) Regulations 2003, Regulation 6 changes the procedure for claims for equal pay for work of equal value

New Disability Discrimination Act regulations (1 October 2004)
Changes to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 include the removal of the exemption for employers with fewer than 15 employees

Agency workers regulations (Late 2004)
Legislation to comply with the Temporary (Agency) Workers Directive comes into force. The Temporary (Agency) Workers Directive is incorporated into UK law. This gives temporary agency workers an entitlement to working and employment conditions that are comparable to those of permanent employees


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