Upcoming changes in Employment Law
With a General Election on the immediate horizon the view in my crystal ball is somewhat hazy. There are some issues which have already got to the point of no return but the long term view is less sure.
The big issues this year:
• The changes to parental leave, allowing parents to share the period post birth or adoption. This will be available to parents of children due to be born or placed for adoption with them on or after 5 April 2015;
• Unpaid time will be provided for the partner of the mother to attend antenatal appointments;
• The removal of the requirement for 26 weeks’ service before employees become entitled to adoption leave;
• The introduction of a new right for both single and joint adopters to attend adoption appointments. Employees will be protected against suffering a detriment or being dismissed in relation to exercising that right. Employers will not be able to prevent employees taking paternity leave if they have exercised a right to take paid time off to attend an adoption appointment in respect of that child; and
• The amended record-keeping, returns and penalties provisions under the Finance Bill 2014 intended to combat false self-employment through service companies will apply from 6 April 2015 (with the first return due by 5 August 2015).
So what of the future? According to the election manifestos the key issues are as follows:
• Conservatives: Strike ballot minimum threshold. Introduction of a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act 1998. Ending the use of exclusive zero hours contracts.
• Labour: Commitment to equal pay and tribunal fees reform. Increasing the national minimum wage to £8 an hour by the end of the next Parliament in 2020. Requiring companies to publish details of average pay to promote equal pay.
• Liberal Democrats: Gender pay gap reporting and additional paternity leave. Increase to the national minimum wage for apprentices. Granting fathers an additional four weeks’ paternity leave.
• UKIP: Leave the EU and favour British workers. Repeal the “Agency Workers Directive”. Give those employed on zero hours arrangements a right to a fixed hours contract once they have been employed for a year. Give businesses the right to discriminate in favour of young British workers.