As in previous years, April has seen a number of changes made to employment legislation, the most important of which are summarised below.
The statutory annual leave entitlement has now been increased from 4.8 weeks to 5.6 weeks. This equates to an increase from 24 to 28 days for an individual working a full five day week. There is no additional entitlement to time off on public holidays, although most employers have traditionally offered this in addition to the statutory entitlement.
Those individuals or employers who fail to pay employment tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal awards will be added to the register of Judgments, Orders and Fines once enforcement proceedings have been brought against them in the county court by the successful party. This register can be searched by any members of the public and credit reference agencies.
The statutory dispute resolution procedures introduced under the Employment Act 2002 have been repealed, together with the provisions in the Employment Rights Act 1996 dealing with procedural unfairness in unfair dismissal cases. Subject to transitional provisions, these procedures have been replaced with an ACAS Code of Practice, which outlines procedures to be followed in situations of dismissal for poor performance or misconduct. The procedure for cases involving dismissals for reasons such as redundancy and termination of fixed term contracts will depend on the facts of each case. Commentators perceive the code to be more “employer friendly” than the statutory dispute resolution procedures that it replaces, especially in terms of the consequences of non compliance.
The right to request flexible working times has now been extended to cover employee parents with children up to the age of 16 or, if such children are disabled, 18. Previously, this right was available only to parents with children up to the age of six.
The rate of statutory sick pay has been increased to £79.15 per week and statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay rates have been increased to £123.06 per week.
Quoted companies will be required to disclose in their directors’ remuneration report how pay and employment conditions elsewhere in the company and group have been taken into account when determining directors’ remuneration. This will apply in relation to financial years beginning on or after 6 April 2009.