The National Mimimum Wage.
From 1 October 2014 the National Minimum Wage rates have increased as follows;
- The adult rate from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour.
- The rate for 18 – 20 year olds from £5.03 to £5.13 per hour.
- The rate for 16 – 17 year olds from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour.
- The rate for apprentices from £2.68 – £2.73 per hour.
The penalty for employers who fail to pay workers their National Minimum Wage can be up to £20,000 (an increase of 400% on the previous penalty).
There is also now in place a scheme for “naming and shaming” offending employers on the Direct Gov website.
Equal Pay Audits
With effect from 1 October 2014 regulations as to equal pay audits came in to force.
An Employment Tribunal is now required to make an Order for an equal pay audit where it finds there has been an equal pay breach. An equal pay breach includes a breach of an equality clause for example a sex equality clause and a breach of the sex discrimination provisions in relation to pay. “Micro businesses” (those with no more than 10 full time equivalent employees) and “new businesses” (one begun in the 12 months leading up to the date of the complaint) are exempt from being required to carry out an equal pay audit.
Failure to comply with an Order by the Tribunal gives rise to a power for the Tribunal to order a penalty of up to £5,000.
Members of the Reserve Forces
With effect from 1 October 2014 a member of the reserve forces may bring a claim for unfair dismissal if the principal reason for the dismissal is, or is connected with, membership of a reserve force without having to qualify for the usual two year period.
Payments will be made to an employer of a reservist who is called up provided that the employer:
- Is not a Public Authority
- Has an annual turnover of no more than 25.9 million pounds; and
- Has a total number of employees of no more than 250.
If the employer qualifies for a payment then in respect of an employee with normal working hours of 35 or more per week the monthly payment is £500. The amount reduces proportionately in respect of part time employees.
With effect from the 1 October 2014 some employees will have the right to take time off to accompanying a pregnant woman for antenatal care.
As with the reservist legislation there is no qualification period.
The type of employee who may benefit includes:
- The husband of a pregnant woman
- The civil partner of a pregnant woman
- The partner of a pregnant woman, of either sex, who lives with the woman in a lasting family relationship but is not a relative
- The father of the expected child.
The list is not exhaustive. Further information may be obtained from a guide produced by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).
Holiday Pay – Commission
The European Court has decided that statutory holiday pay should include commission that would have been earned if the employee had been at work.
It remains to be seen what the UK Courts and Tribunals will make of this European decision. Where it is likely to come to a head is through an employee claiming that a failure to pay the commission element of holiday pay amounts to an unauthorised deduction from wages. For this a claim may be made to the Employment Tribunal at any time within three months of the last of a series of such deductions.
Employers will argue that the UK law is incompatible with the working time directive relied upon by the European Court. This line of argument, however, will only be available to private sector employers since public sector workers are able to rely directly on the directive to bring claims to an Employment Tribunal.
2 October 2014
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For advice and assistance in respect of Employment matters contact Nigel Pepper, Consultant or Patrick Nelson, Associate on 01785 211411.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.