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Upcoming changes in employment law 2014

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As we are now well into the New Year and the festive period seems like a distant memory we are all looking forward to the year ahead…. There are going to be some big changes in employment law in 2014 and it’s important you know about them so you don’t end up with tribunal claims against you.

On the flip side, you’ll really want to know about some of the changes as they should actually help you run your business more effectively and some of the changes may even be employer friendly.

The key proposals for this year include:

Changes to TUPE

Changes to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations, otherwise known as TUPE, are expected to come into force on 31 January 2014.

These changes include:

  • The rules on service provision changes will remain but for there to be a TUPE service provision change, the activities carried on after the change in service provision must be “fundamentally or essentially the same” as those carried on before it.
  • You will still have to provide employee liability information and this will have to be provided 28 days before the transfer, rather than the current 14 days.
  • Employers will be able to change terms derived from collective agreements one year after the transfer, provided that the overall change is no less favourable to the employee.
  • Changes in location will be expressly included within the scope of an economic, technical or organisational reason entailing changes in the workforce (ETO reason).  This means that when there are genuine place of work redundancies, they will not be automatically unfair.
  • Consultation which begins before the transfer can count for the purposes of complying with the collective redundancy rules, provided that it is agreed that meaningful consultation has been carried out.
  • Micro-businesses will be allowed to inform and consult affected employees directly when there is no recognised independent union, nor any existing appropriate representatives.
  • The existing government guidance on TUPE will be improved.

FBsupport members can find more details about the existing TUPE regime by logging on to the members only site.

Early conciliation to try to avoid tribunal claims

From April, any employee that wants to lodge a claim at the Tribunal must first notify Acas, which will offer conciliation.

If the conciliation process does not resolve the employee’s issue within the prescribed period they can then go on and lodge a tribunal claim.  However, there must be a period of pre-claim conciliation before any claim is submitted.

By notifying Acas of their intention to claim the employee will essentially halt the 3 month deadline in order to bring a claim at the Tribunal.  This is likely to delay the process, meaning that employers may be faced with claims later than 3 months after the alleged incidents.

Changes to the right to request flexible working

At some point this spring, the Government is expected to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, rather than only those with caring responsibilities.

It will also remove the current statutory procedure for considering requests. Instead, employers will have to consider all requests in a reasonable manner.

You will still have the right to refuse a request on business grounds and it will remain good practice to follow the current procedure.

FBsupport members can find more details about the existing flexible working request regime by logging on to the members only site.

Introduction of the Health and Work Assessment Advisory Service to help manage sickness absence

It is expected this service will launch in the spring. It will provide free occupational health assistance for employers and can provide an occupational health assessment after four weeks of sickness absence.

Increasing the flexibility of parental leave

Possibly not coming into effect until 2015, there are nonetheless important changes ahead regarding parental leave. These include:

  • the ability for parents to choose how they share the care of their child during the first year after birth,
  • giving parents of any child under the age of 18 years the right to unpaid parental leave; and
  • the right for eligible parents who have a child through surrogacy to take ordinary paternity leave and pay, adoption leave and pay and shared parental leave and pay.

FBsupport members can find more details about the existing maternity, paternity and parental leave regime by logging on to the members only site.

So as you will see from the above it will be another active year in employment law.  As always, we will keep you up to date with any key changes in employment law as and when they come into force.  In the meantime, if you need further advice on these changes or any other element of employment law, please do not hestitate to contact the team.

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