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Changes to Law Employment 2014

What news in Employment Law in 2014

Shared parental leave
The Government’s proposals for shared parental leave will apply as of April 2015. The Government has set out how this complex new system will interact with maternity leave, paternity leave, and unpaid parental leave, and when parents will be eligible for each type of leave. There are also proposals in relation to statutory pay, notice to take leave, KIT days, and the right to return to work. There are still questions to be answered in relation to pensions and benefits, such as what
to do if the company offers enhanced maternity pay – should this be offered to those on shared parental leave, or should it be withdrawn altogether? Watch this space….

Flexible working
The right to request flexible working will be extended on 6 April 2014 to all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous employment. Much of the current statutory procedure will go, with the intention that it’s replaced by HR policy and the ACAS code. HR teams will need to have a policy consistent with the ACAS code. Most importantly, there should be consistency in handling requests in order to reduce the risk of discrimination claims being brought because certain groups have been treated less favorably than others.

Remuneration and bonuses
An issue for HR professionals working in the financial services sector is remuneration and bonuses. The new rules governing fixed bonuses, where the permitted basic salary-to-bonus ratio will be 1:1, or up to 1:2 with shareholder approval, are effective from 1 January 2014.

Pensions auto-enrolment
This will be an issue for medium-sized companies (50-499 employees) which become subject to mandatory auto-enrolment at some time between 1 January 2014 and 1 April 2015. Smaller companies will become subject to the new regime between June 2015 and April 2017, so some will need to start preparing in earnest during 2014. It is advised that employers should start planning a year ahead of their own staging date (which is when the legislation will begin to apply to them). Common issues that are coming up when considering pensions are whether to include the application of auto-enrolment to secondees, interns, and non-executive directors, as well as the treatment of employees who already have personal pension arrangements and the interaction with salary sacrifice.

Pregnancy discrimination
The Government has launched an investigation into maternity and pregnancy discrimination, following more than 9,000 pregnancy discrimination claims brought against employers since 2007. The research will be conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. From April 2014, employers might be at risk of a financial penalty where the breach of employment legislation has “aggravating features”. This could catch a case of proven pregnancy discrimination and employers should bear these issues in mind, particularly if they’re thinking that the risk of a claim being brought has diminished because of the introduction of tribunal fees.

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