Increase in Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption
The standard rate of statutory maternity, Paternity and
Adoption pay increases to £112.75 on 1 April 2007. The lower
earnings limit also increases to £87. In addition, the Government
intends to exercise its powers under the Work and Families
Act 2006 to increase statutory maternity pay from 39 weeks
to 52 weeks by the end of this Parliament.
The Work and Families Act 2006 will also introduce a new
right to additional paternity leave and pay for fathers
during the second six months of the mother's 12-month maternity
leave period. These changes are also expected to be introduced
by the end of this Parliament.
Rate of Statutory Sick Pay increased
The standard rate of SSP is increased to £70.05 per week.
Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations
These regulations, which implement the Information and
Consultation Directive in Great Britain are extended to
cover undertakings with 100 or more employees from 6 April
Extension to Flexible Working Regulations come into force
The regulations extend the right to request flexible working
to carers of adults from 6 April 2007. Employees can request
a change to the hours they work or the times that they are
required to work, or to work from home. Flexible working
requests can cover a range of working practices, including
part-time working, home working, etc.
The Government defines the relationship between the carer
and the person for whom he or she cares who must be:
· the employee's spouse, civil partner or partner);
· the employee's relative); or
· an adult who lives at the same address as the employee
Health & Safety
Corporate Manslaughter Bill
The new UK Bill will come into force during 2007. It will
create a new offence of corporate manslaughter which will
allow organisations to be prosecuted by management failure
that lead to the deaths of employees and others. The new
offence will apply if senior management or an organisation
has been found to have failed to take reasonable care for
the safety of its employees or others.
The Role of Health & Safety Reps
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has been carrying out
a consultation on improving employee involvement in health
& safety and is likely to introduce some changes to the
current arrangements in the near future.
Their consultation concluded that the current method of
appointing safety representatives is flawed and outdated,
with only a quarter of workplaces estimated to be covered
by independent safety representatives.
The position is much worse within non-unionised workplaces,
where, despite legal provision for "elected representatives
of employee safety" very few have been appointed and those
who have, seem to have fewer rights than in unionised organisations.
Public Sector Pay
The latest Pay Review Bodies for public sector pay will
lead to over 1,350,000 public sector workers receiving below
inflation pay increases from 1 April 2007, with many awards
being staged. The Chancellor revealed rises ranging from
no pay increase for general medical practitioners to 9.2%
for the lowest-paid servicemen and women. For the Scottish
health service, Andy Kerr confirmed that over one million
nurses and other staff covered by the pay review body for
nurses and other health professions will receive a 2.5%
pay increase from 1 April 2007. Unsurprisingly, the awards
were universally slammed as a "pay cut" by all NHS trade
unions, although the decision not to stage the award in
Scotland was broadly welcomed.
National Minimum Wage
The Government has announced that the National Minimum
Wage (NMW) is to rise an average of 3.2% from £5.35 to £5.52
an hour from October 2007. The development rate for 18-21
year olds rises from £4.45 to £4.60 and hour, and the youth
rate for workers aged 16 and 17 will to from £3.30 to £3.40
per hour. This means that the NMW has increased by almost
30% more than inflation, since its introduction in 1999.
The increase will benefit over a million workers, many of
them low paid women. In announcing the award, Trade & Industry
Secretary, Alastair Darling, also advised that the Government
is to consult on the Low Pay Commission's recommendation
that a penalty should be introduced to for any employer
found to have underpaid the minimum wage.
Latest Pay Settlement Trends
The level of pay settlements has been pushed up due to
the steep rise in inflation at the end of last year. Industrial
Relations Services (IRS) has found that average pay deals
rose from 3.5% in the three months to January from 3% in
the previous quarter.
EQUALITY AT WORK
Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007
New regulations which make it unlawful to discriminate
on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of
goods, facilities and services, education, disposal and
management of premises and exercise of public functions
on the grounds of sexual orientation come into force on
Discrimination on grounds of Religion and Beliefs
The Equality Act 2006 clarifies the law on religion and
belief discrimination. From 6 April 2007 it changes the
definition contained in the Employment Equality (Religion
and Belief) Regulations 2003 to "any religion, religious
belief, or similar philosophical belief".
It also introduces provisions against discrimination on
the grounds of religion or belief in the provision of goods,
facilities, services and education, the use and disposal
of premises and the exercise of public functions.
According to a survey carried out by the Department for
Work & Pensions (DWP), management face two key barriers
in implementing flexible retirement policies. These are:
managing performance of older employees and communicating
available options to staff. However, the benefits were seen
to far outweigh any problems, as the policy helped organisations,
in terms of retention of skills, reduced costs and assisting
with skills-shortage vacancies.
Power Dressing still an issue for Women
According to a survey reported in the Scotsman, 62%
of women throughout the UK still feel the need to dress
up for work to be taken seriously by their male colleagues.
Sixty percent believed they were more in control if
they wore smart, tailored suits and 52% felt they performed
better if they dressed well.
A spokesperson for www.missbutterfly.co.uk
who carried out the survey, said, "It's worrying to
think that woman believe the only way to gain the respect
of their male colleagues is to dress in a certain way."
The survey also showed that 10% of women admitted dressing
provocatively to gain a bonus or to "win the heart"
of a male colleague. Who said Feminism was dead?