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About the P&I Team Briefings Home | Responses | PFI Index | Policy Guide
Forthcoming Employment Legislation - No 37 June 02
 

BACKGROUND

Not a week seems to pass without more employment legislation being passed or proposed. A lot of this is due to European Directives which the UK must implement or amendments to previously implemented Directives where the UK has got it wrong.

To cut through the confusion of what is in force, what is coming up soon and what is merely a twinkle in the legislators' eyes, here's a quick guide to short, medium and long-term developments.

SHORT TERM (New regulations in force now or expected before the end of 2002)

Statutory Maternity Pay increases to £75 per week from April 2002

Fixed term contracts Regulations to provide protection for fixed-term workers due by 10th July 2002. They will outlaw the use of redundancy waiver clauses and fixed term contracts will be converted to permanent contracts on the next renewal after the employee has been on fixed term contracts for four years. The four-year period starts running from the date of the Regulations. Therefore the earliest any contract will be converted is 10th July 2006 since any time served on a fixed-term contract prior to 10th July 2002 will not count.

Imposition of specific duties under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2002 31st May 2002

Specific duties to prevent racism are imposed on those bodies subject to the general duty under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act. See separate briefing: http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/raceamend.html

Increase to NMW 1st October 2002

The adult hourly rate is to increase from £4.10 to £4.20. The youth hourly rate is to increase from £3.50 to £3.60.

Amendments to Part-time Workers Regulations due sometime in 2002 (consultation finished in April)

The appropriate comparator for the regulations will be changed so that part-timers can compare themselves to full-timers irrespective of whether either of their contracts is permanent or fixed-term. Also, the two-year limitation on the period for which back-dated pension rights can be claimed under the regulations will be removed, leading to potentially much larger settlements.

Amendments to TUPE Regulations awaiting Government consultation response.

Clarifying the circumstances in which TUPE applies, particularly in public sector transfers.

MEDIUM TERM (before end 2004)

New Rights in the Employment Bill Royal Assent expected July 2002, implementing Regulations expected to come into force in 2003

Changes to the Employment Tribunal System - a briefing on this is forthcoming.

Family - friendly measures: there will be a right for all employees with at least six months' service with children under the age

of six (18 in respect of disabled children). to request to work flexibly and a duty on employers to consider the request seriously.

Extended maternity leave (6 months paid, 6 months unpaid), paternity leave (2 weeks paid), and adoptive leave (6 months paid and 6 months unpaid).

Statutory Maternity Pay - increases to £100 per week from April 2003.

Time off for trade union learning representatives - giving them rights broadly equivalent to those of shop stewards.

Equal Pay introduces a questionnaire requesting specific information from employers when deciding whether to bring an ET on equal pay.

Extension of Working Time Directive to excluded sectors by 1st August 2003 (by August 2004 for junior doctors)

Working Time Regulations will apply to those currently excluded, including transport workers.

The UK' Government has had infringement proceedings issued against it for the inadequate implementation of the WTD. Amicus MSF has complained about the ability to opt-out of a maximum 48 hour week, the exclusion of overtime on nightshift from normal working hours calculations and employers not having to enforce the worker's right to take a break. The Government has until the end of July 2002 to reply to the complaint.

'Framework' Equal Treatment Directive must be implemented by 2 December 2003

Directive implementing the principle of equal treatment in employment and occupation on the grounds of sexual orientation, religion or belief. The provisions on age and disability discrimination don't have to be implemented until December 2006.

Amendments to Disability Discrimination Act 1995 by Oct 2004: However, the Government will be legislating by the end of 2004 to remove the current 15 employee 'small employer' exemption and the exemptions from the Act for transport workers, the police and the fire and prison services. The Act will be extended to cover partially sighted people and people with cancer from the point where the disease is likely to require 'substantial treatment'. The employer's right to justify a failure to make a reasonable adjustment will be removed and two further examples will be added to the list of reasonable adjustments that the employer must consider.

LONG TERM (2005 and beyond)

Protection for Agency Workers Proposed EU Directive (no date)

Proposed Directive will grant agency workers, including temps, equal rights to pay and pensions compared to normal employees after a six-week qualification period. Unfair dismissal rights may also be extended to agency workers, reversing current UK case law.

Information and Consultation Directive must be implemented by 23rd March 2005

Gives employees the right to be informed about the business's economic situation and informed and consulted (through trade unions) about employment prospects and decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in the workplace, including redundancies and transfers. The Directive will apply to all businesses with more than 150 employees, and will be gradually extended to cover all businesses with more than 50 employees by March 2008.

Sexual harassment proposed amendments to the Equal Treatment Directive (possibly 2005)

Would define sexual harassment for the first time, require employers to prove that they took all possible preventative measures if one if one of their workers can show a prima facie case and make firms liable to a financial penalty if they failed to take such measures.

Top of page

FURTHER INFORMATION:

DTI Employment Rights website: www.dti.gov.uk/er/

DTI Employment Rights useful links: www.dti.gov.uk/
er/links.htm#Law

IDS Brief:
www.idsbrief.co.uk/

Thomsons Solicitors On-Line Briefings: www.thompsons.law.co.uk
/ltext/libindex.htm

Personnel Today online: www.personneltoday.com/

European Directives:

DTI information on proposed Directives: www.dti.gov.uk/er/
europe.htm

European Union Employment and Social Affairs index:
europa.eu.int/pol/
socio/index_en.htm