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Changes to business regulations in 2014

A number of government departments issue their changes to regulations twice a year, on the common commencement dates (CCDs) 6 April and 1 October, though some ad-hoc changes can occur throughout the year. See what's coming up in the year ahead.

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Upcoming changes

October 

Fathers right to time off for antenatal appointments

The Children and Families Act will allow fathers to be and partners of pregnant women, to take time off to attend two antenatal appointments with the expectant mother.

Changes to the National Minimum Wage (NMW)

It is worth making a note of these as the maximum penalty for ies of up to £20,000 earlier this year.

The rates from October 2014 will be:

  • 21 years and over - £6.50 per hour
  • 18-20 years - £5.13 per hour
  • 16-17 years - £3.79 per hour
  • Apprentice rate - £2.73 per hour.

Shared parental leave

Although this law change comes into effect in October 2014, it only affects parents of children born or matched for adoption on or after 5 April 2015. It is designed to allow parents to share care for the child in the first year from the date of the child's birth.

In essence both parents will be able to take shared parental leave and claim shared parental pay after the compulsory two week maternity leave period. Before taking a block of leave (an employee can make up to three requests to take leave), an employee will have to provide the employer with 8 weeks’ notice. 

The scheme will also provide each employee taking shared parental leave with 20 KIT style days. Further, provided that the employee has not taken more than 26 weeks shared parental leave, he/she will retain the right to return to the same job.

December

Changes to food labelling regulations

From 13 December 2014, restaurants, delis and other sellers of unpackaged food will have to ensure that all consumers are given comprehensive ingredient listing information and make it easier for people with food allergies to identify ingredients they need to avoid. Read more here.

Past changes

April 

Changes to statutory sick pay, maternity and redundancy pay

As of 6 April the statutory sick pay rate increases from £86.70 to £87.55. Maternity pay, ordinary, additional paternity and adoption pay increases from £136.78 to £138.18. The maximum amount of a week's pay for calculating statutory redundancy pay will also change to £464 and the new maximum redundancy payment will be £13,920.

Sickness pay

The DWP has abolished the statutory sick pay (SSP) percentage threshold scheme (PTS) from the beginning of the 2014/15 tax year.

The PTS compensates employers for higher-than-average sickness absence. An employer is entitled to recover some of the SSP paid to their employees if the total SSP paid in a tax month is greater than a set percentage of their gross Class 1 NICs (employers' and employees') liability for that month.

Employers will have until the end of 2015/16 to recover SSP paid for sickness absences occurring before the end of 2013/14

Employment tribunal changes

From 6 April 2014 changes will include:

  • The abolition of discrimination questionnaires. These allowed claimants to serve these on individuals that they believed had discriminated against them prior to bringing a claim or within a limited period thereafter, to enable a claimant to better understand whether they had a claim for discrimination. However a claimant will still be able to seek such information as part of the tribunal process.
     
  • A new system will come into place which requires claimants, before bringing a claim, to send details of that claim to ACAS and they will then be offered pre-claim conciliation for a period of one month. If the parties enter into pre-claim conciliation then this will have the effect of stopping the clock for the presentation of a Tribunal claim for the period of the pre-claim conciliation. If either party refuses to partake in the pre-claim conciliation or if the conciliation is unsuccessful then the claimant may present their claim to the Tribunal.
     
  • A financial penalty is to be introduced to the tribunal system and will be applied against a losing employer where the employer's breach has 'one or more aggravating features'. The penalty is not payable to the claimant but rather the Secretary of State with a 50% discount for payment within 21 days. The penalty must be 50% of the amount of any financial award ordered by the Tribunal to the claimant but is subject to a minimum and maximum penalty figure being £100 and £5000 respectively.

June 

Flexible working

From 30 June 2014 employers could find themselves receiving flexible working requests from any employee, when the right to request flexible working is extended to all employees who have 26 weeks continuous service. At the same time the procedure for dealing with such requests will be more relaxed as the statutory procedure of dealing with these type of requests will no longer apply and instead an employer must deal with any request in a reasonable manner.

July 

Duty to inform and consult under TUPE for micro business

Employers who employ fewer than 10 employer will comply with the duty to inform and consult under the new TUPE regulations by informing and consulting directly with the affected employee.

As with any legal issue it is worth seeking advice from an expert before deciding to take any action. Members of the Forum can contact our business advice team on 0845 130 1722.