The leaves have fallen and the golden colours of Autumn have left us being replaced by snow in some areas! On the employment front, change is also afoot with the Government keen to make an impact on their pledge to ‘review employment and workplace laws to ensure maximum flexibility for both employers and employees’. It is clear that the Government is determined to do more than simply review employment law: we have already seen significant changes, and more are in the pipeline. Here is a brief overview of things to look out for as well as some light hearted snippets which highlight some surprises in our workplaces!
Auto-enrolment of pensions has been introduced from 1st October 2012 and will see a massive change in the way we all have to change our focus on planning and saving for our retirement. The changes will mean employers having to identify eligible jobholders and automatically enroll them in to a qualifying pension scheme. I have produced a factsheet on this which you can read, and download, here.
In order to comply with the European Union's Parental Leave Directive, the Government is to amend the Parental Leave law from 9th March 2013. With effect from 9th March parents can request to take up to 18 weeks (unpaid) leave before a child's 6th birthday. (At present, eligible parents of children under 6, can apply for to 13 weeks unpaid leave). If the child is disabled this is extended to 18 weeks until the child's 18th birthday. The Government are still considering extending this to the child’s 18th birthday; this is due to be introduced in 2015.
More Flexible workplaces required
A survey by the charity Gingerbread has found that the top job priorities for single parents are (1) having understanding line managers, (2)flexible or part-time hours and (3) a workplace close to the school or nursery attended by their children. It could be said that this applies to those with dependents at the other end of the age spectrum as well as a number of other people who would just prefer more flexible working hours – such as flexitime. If this is something your organisation is considering then contact me for more information about the range of options when considering flexible working.
Flexi – Flexible working
In another survey, some workplaces are so flexible employers might be wondering if home working is such an efficient option. 10% of those surveyed said they liked to work in the garden, 10% in bed, 7% while cooking and scarily 5% in the bathroom. Now we’ve probably all texted from the little room but who would admit to it?!
Breaks at work
How many of my readers don’t take a break at work preferring instead to just eat a sandwich or drink a cup-a-soup at their desk? Be honest! In a recent survey by BUPA it was revealed that up to £50 million a day is lost in productivity from workers who fail to take a lunch break. Workers should be encouraged to take their rest breaks away from their desk and the temptation of the BBC news website or EBay. Boring but important!!
Boring but important!!
Queens Speech – Enterprise, Employment and Regulatory Reform Bill In the Queens Speech it was announced that further reform is likely in order to increase the number of employment disputes resolved without resorting to litigation. Here is a summary of the Government’s proposals:
- The introduction of “Protected conversations” which they hope will increase the number of mutually agreed settlements for unfair dismissals. There will be model documents included as part of the consultation which the Government has announced. They also propose that a new statutory Code of Practice be drawn up by ACAS.
- A limit on unfair dismissal compensation (currently £72,300).
- New rules are being looked at for tribunals with a view to weeding out unmeritorious or incomplete claims earlier. There are a number of other changes being adopted in connection with tribunals and potentially a mandatory period of ACAS conciliation before tribunal proceedings as well as the introduction of ACAS pre-conciliation to all claims.
- The introduction of Employment Tribunal fees will be brought in next summer whereby any employee wishing to make a claim against their employer will have to pay a fee upfront; the balance of the total fee will fall due when the claim is tabled for a hearing. The precise details as to how, and by whom, this is to be collected are still to be decided.
And more ..
As if this wasn’t enough the Government are also currently consulting on changing the TUPE Regulations and have consulted on shortening the collective redundancy rules from the current 90-day consultation to either 30 or 45 days – the consultation closed on 19th September.
And there’s more ...
In his speech to the Conservative Party conference, George Osborne set out a voluntary three-way deal option in which employees could give up rights such as unfair dismissal and redundancy in return for shares in the business, which will in turn be exempt from Capital Gains Tax. This new type of contract is aimed at fast growing small and medium sized businesses in an attempt to encourage more recruitment.
As for me .. I’ve been busy with new and existing clients assisting with issues such as managing poor performance, delivering training packages on recruitment, discipline, grievance and attendance management, and assisting a new client with policies required for them to complete tendering documents for a public sector organisation.
Wishing you all the very best for the forthcoming festive season and a prosperous 2013 to you all!