National minimum wage rates increase
Increases to the national minimum wage rates have come into force. The rates, which are set out below, depend on the type and age of the worker (the pre 1 October rates are shown in brackets for each of the categories):-
- Standard adult worker (workers aged 21 and over) - £6.50 per hour (£6.31)
- Development workers (workers aged 18-20) - £5.13 per hour (£5.03)
- Young workers (this category applies to workers who are under the age of 18 but above compulsory school age and who are not working as apprentices) - £3.79 per hour (£3.72)
- Apprentices - £2.73 per hour (£2.68)
Employees and agency workers are now able to exercise their right to take time off work in order to attend up to two ante-natal appointments with the child's mother. There is no qualifying period of employment for employees to exercise this right but agency workers must have completed their 12 week qualifying period.
This right is extended to husbands, partners and civil partners of pregnant women and is not solely restricted to the child's father. The time off taken to attend the appointment should not exceed six and a half hours and is unpaid. The right may be refused by the employer, temporary work agency or hirer where it is reasonable to do so.
Equal Pay Audits
The Equality Act 2010 (Equal Pay Audits) Regulations 2014 came into force today. Where an employer is found to be in breach of equal pay legislation, these regulations require Tribunals to order employers to carry out equal pay audits unless:
- The employer carried out an audit (meeting the requirements of the regulations) in the three years preceding the date of the tribunal's judgment.
- It is clear, without an audit, whether any action is required to avoid equal pay breaches from occurring or continuing.
- The breach found by the tribunal gives no reason to think that there might be other breaches.
- The disadvantages of an audit would outweigh its benefits.
Micro businesses (those with fewer than 10 employees) are exempt. New businesses (i.e. a business that commenced during the 12 month period leading up to the date of the equal pay complaint) are also exempt subject to certain exceptions.
These Regulations only apply to equal pay claims brought on or after today (1 October 2014).
Qualifying period for unfair dismissal removed for members of the Reserve Force
The Defence Reform Act 2014 (Commencement No 2) Order 2014 brought section 48 of the Defence Reform Act 2014 into force. This section removes the statutory qualifying period for unfair dismissal where the dismissal is connected with the employee's membership of the Reserve Forces.
There are plenty of other changes to come over the coming months. For a timeline of recent and future changes see our Employment law reform timeline.