Employment e-Brief: Four employment law changes coming into force 1 October 2014

Wednesday 1st October 2014

As of 1 October 2014, there are four big changes within employment law that are likely to affect employers:

1. The National Minimum Wage increases:

  • £6.50 for workers aged 21 and over (up 19p);
  • £5.13 for workers 18-20 years old (up 10p);
  • £3.79 for 16-17 years old (up 7p); and
  • £2.73 for apprentices who are in the first year of their apprenticeship or aged 16-18.

It is vital for employers to ensure that all of their staff receive the increased rates from 1
October or they could face a penalty of up to £20,000 for each worker who is underpaid.

2. Equal Pay Audits:

If an Employment Tribunal has found an employer to be guilty of sex discrimination in relation to ‘pay’ (either a wage or a non-contractual payment, such as a bonus) they can order the employer to carry out an ‘Equal Pay Audit’.

Audits are likely to be costly to undertake and if the results of the audit become public they could lead to both reputational issues and further claims.  It goes without saying – both male and female employees at the same level with the same skills and contractual hours should be paid equally.

3. The right to unpaid time off for ante-natal appointments:

Qualifying workers now have the right to take unpaid time off work to accompany a pregnant woman to up to two ante-natal appointments, capped at a maximum of 6.5 hours per appointment.

To qualify for the right the worker must be either:

  • the husband, civil partner or partner of the pregnant woman; or
  • the father or parent of the pregnant woman’s child; or
  • the intended parents in a surrogacy situation meeting the specified conditions

Whilst it is unpaid leave, it is effectively employees taking time away from the office – ensure managers know about the 6.5 hours maximum per appointment.

4. Reservists are better protected against unfair dismissal:

When a worker is dismissed primarily because they are a member of the reserve force, the normal two-year service requirement for bringing a claim of unfair dismissal does not apply – the worker may pursue their claim immediately.

If you would like any additional information on these changes or any advice, please contact a member of the Employment team.