New employment law reforms introduced in October

Many employment law reforms have taken effect this year, from the change to flexible working to new rules for dealing with workplace disputes.

More changes have now been introduced this October:

1. Fathers and partners can now take time off work for antenatal appointments

As of 1 October 2014 expectant fathers, or the partner of a pregnant woman, can take unpaid leave to accompany a pregnant woman to their antenatal appointments.

The right is available to:

  • A husband
  • Civil partner or partner of a pregnant woman
  • Father or parent of a pregnant woman’s expected child
  • An intended parent in a surrogacy situation.

Employees can use the right on up to two occasions for a maximum of six and a half hours each time. 

They don’t need to have worked for the company for a set period of time before they can take the time off. They can use it on ‘day one’.

Agency workers, however, must have met a minimum service requirement of 12 weeks with the same employer to be eligible.

If they so wish, an employer can ask their employee to provide a signed declaration stating:

  • That the employee has a qualifying pregnant relationship with a pregnant woman or her expected child;
  • That the employee’s purpose in taking unpaid leave is to accompany a pregnant woman to her antenatal appointment;
  • That the antenatal appointment has been made on the advice of a GP, registered midwife or registered nurse;
  • The appointment’s time and date.

The employee can’t take unpaid leave if their employer asks for such a declaration and the employee doesn’t provide it.

More information


2. Audits for employers who lose an equal pay claim at an employment tribunal

As of October employment tribunals must make employers, who have lost equal pay claims brought on or after 1 October 2014, undertake and publish pay audits.

Equal pay claims are where employees can prove that they are being paid less than members of the opposite sex for performing work of equal value. 

The employers who will be affected by this legislation are those who have discriminated on the ground of sex in contractual or non-contractual pay matters where continuing discrimination is likely.

Exceptions to the reforms are if the employer:

  • has already carried out an audit in the past three years;
  • has transparent pay practices;
  • can provide a good reason why the pay audit would not be useful.

More information


3. Increase of the National Minimum Wage (NMW)

As of 1 October the NMW increases as follows:

  • Adults: From £6.31 to £6.50 per hour
  • 18 to 20-year-olds: From £5.03 to £5.13 per hour
  • 16 to 17-year-olds : From £3.72 to £3.79 per hour
  • Apprentices: From £2.68 to £2.73 per hour

More information


4. Changes to unfair dismissal for members of reserve forces

As of 1 October 2014, employees who allege their dismissal was to do with them being a member of a reserve force, such as the army reserve (formerly known as the territorial army),won’t need to have the usual two-year qualifying period required to claim unfair dismissal and they can now make a claim immediately.

Reservists will still have to prove that it was unfair to dismiss them because of their absences from work. They won’t be treated as unfairly dismissed automatically.


5. Auto enrolments for employers with 60 employees

As of 1 October 2014 UK employers with 60 or more employees now have to automatically enrol their staff into a workplace pension. There are fines for employers for non-compliance.


Published on: October 17, 2014

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