Bosses warned over flurry of changes to employment laws

Employers need to be alert as the changes are being phased in and some implementation dates have been altered, which will lead to mistakes and confusion if they fail to do their homework.

The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations aim to safeguard employees and their rights when a business changes ownership.

Some amendments to the TUPE regulations come into force today, while others will be implemented from May 1 and July 31.

If applied correctly, they should help companies of all sizes in consultation with staff over a transfer of ownership, and generally should make life easier for employers.

They include a requirement that, after a transfer, business activities must be fundamentally the same as those carried out previously, and soon they will allow for collective agreements to be renegotiated after a year as long as they are no less favourable to staff.

From the end of July, bosses of micro-businesses those with fewer than ten employees with no recognised trade union or staff representatives in place will be able to consult with their workforce directly rather than having to go through the formal process of electing employee representatives.

New rules extending the right to request flexible working for all staff with at least 26 weeks service have been delayed, but are expected to come into force in the spring.
Around the same time, employment tribunals will have the right to fine employers found to have breached their employees rights.

Also in the spring, an attempt to simplify the employment tribunal system and make it more efficient by encouraging early conciliation in disputes is due to be introduced.
April will see increased rates of statutory sick pay as well as maternity, paternity and adoption pay.

There is a lot to digest for employers, and it does not help that some implementation dates have been moved at very short notice. The key message is be prepared and take professional advice to avoid falling foul of these regulations.

Written by Jane Caven of Hurst People Solutions

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