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Employment law – Five things to look out for in 2015

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It’s nearly January, and many will now be gearing up to the new year celebrations. However, before you get out the fireworks, maybe have a think about how small business might be affected by changes to employment law in 2015.

There’s a number of different things that will be changing, but we don’t expect you to remember them all. Therefore we’ve put together five of the most important.

Make time to prepare for Auto-enrolment

Many small businesses have already started looking for advice on auto-enrolment, and with deadlines fast approaching it’s going to be a busy year. The under 50 staff staging dates begin in June for example.

Concerns have been raised over whether the schemes that are offered will be robust enough, and that demand for assistance may outstrip supply. Our advice at the moment is to start planning for it sooner rather than later. After all, as an employer you don’t want to be individually liable for a £5,000 penalty. 

Read more about Auto-enrolment:

Bear in mind the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

This bill is one that could have a real impact on employers and employees. The main aspects of it are:

  • Changes to improve whistleblowing procedures
  • Increase in penalties for employers who pay under the national minimum wage
  • Deterring non-payment of industrial tribunal awards by creating strong financial consequences

However, a Department for Business, Innovation & Skills review is also due in March 2015, which could impact upon the bill. Changes could come into effect like a ban on exclusivity clauses among others  – essentially making these contracts work better for employees, having been the big story for a while now.

Read more about the bill:

Don’t panic about holiday pay, but keep it in mind

Some have made more of November’s EAT ruling than is really necessary. The truth is that you need to fulfil a number of criteria before you’re in danger of making a massive back payment. 

It only applies to regular overtime; not voluntary or irregular. It also doesn’t apply to any contractual holiday over the statutory minimum. And also, and perhaps most importantly, an employee can’t currently claim if there has been a break of more than three months between successive underpayments. 

However, there is more to the story. The Lock case on commission and holiday pay has still to be decided, so if this affects you it may be best to keep an ear out.  

Read more about the holiday pay directive:

Shared parental leave – Too complex?

Many have been crying out for shared leave when a new baby is brought into the world – and now they have it if their babies are due to be born after the 5 April.

However, some things haven’t really been made clear. What are the implications for those that have partners working for a company with enhanced maternity schemes? What rights does an employer have to confirm information with other employers? These could end up making the whole process too complex to implement.

Read more about shared parental leave:

Fit for work – Will it work for you?

If you have staff absent for more than four concurrent weeks, this is something you may well be looking at already…

If you haven’t, the service is set to be fully implemented at the beginning of next year. It’s designed to help employees and employers communicate about long term sick leave and get access to occupational health services and support, to get them back into the workplace as soon as possible.

However, the voluntary nature of the scheme and other aspects have people such as CIPD concerned that it may not be fit for purpose. Only time will tell, and it may be that the rollout has been delayed for completion in May 2015 because of concerns just like this.

Whatever your business does, there will always be changes that affect how you manage your staff. Don’t let it overwhelm you but keep on top of it, and you’ll ensure that you don’t put yourself at risk of penalties or other issues in the long run. 

Kirsty Senior is co-founder and director of human resources software firm citrusHR.

Image: Shutterstock

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