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
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
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
LONG TERM (2005 and beyond)
Protection for Agency Workers – Proposed EU Directive
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
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.