Army Reservists: Response to Consultation Paper due soon

In our email update 117 (16 August 2012), we reported that the Ministry of Defence had produced a consultation paper on how best to generate increased numbers of reservists. The consultation has now closed and the response is due to be released within the next few weeks.

Expected changes arising from this process are that army reservists will train for an extra five days a year and that the number of trained reservists will grow to around 35,000 by 2020.

The BBC has recently called for employers to submit responses to the following questions: Do you employ reservists? How will you cope with the proposed plan of increasing reservist training days? What incentives would support you to employ more reservists?

If you would like to participate, follow this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22112047

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Reports of discrimination by employers in the recruitment process

An employment tribunal claim has recently been brought against a well-known multinational on the grounds that it allegedly discriminated against a job applicant by rejecting his application because of his African name. The applicant states that when he reapplied under a typically British name, he was invited to an interview.

This comes on the heels of a study published at the end of 2012 by an all-party parliamentary group on race and community which showed evidence that women who anglicised their names on job applications had to send half as many job applications before being invited to interview. The secretariat for this all-party parliamentary group is now calling on the government to develop an action plan to encourage blank-name application forms.

This serves as a reminder to employers that discrimination claims can arise even before an offer of employment has been made. Employers should therefore ensure that they have appropriate recruitment procedures in place which serve to eliminate discrimination in the recruitment process, and that these procedures are understood and complied with by all those who are involved in recruitment. For advice and guidance on these issues, please contact Just Employment Law.

Further details can be found here: http://m.guardian.co.uk/money/work-blog/2013/apr/11/can-anonymous-cvs-help-beat-job-discrimination and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-22163776

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Employee shareholder proposal reinstated by House of Commons

On 16 April 2013 the House of Commons voted to reinstate the government’s employee shareholder status proposal into the Growth and Infrastructure Bill. This comes less than one month after the proposal was rejected by the House of Lords. The Bill will now be sent back to the House of Lords for approval. We will keep you updated on this as it progresses.

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Employee shareholder provisions now approved

On 24 April 2013, the House of Lords finally approved the legislative provisions introducing employee shareholder status into UK law, having rejected them twice previously. As a result, the controversial ‘employee shareholder’ status will now become law and is likely to be implemented later this year.

House of Lords approval comes after the government made a number of concessions to the original employee shareholder provisions, which can be found here:

However, the latest concession is that, in order for an individual’s agreement to become an employee shareholder to be valid, the individual must have taken advice from a relevant independent advisor on its effects prior to entering into the relevant contract. In addition, the employer will have to pay reasonable costs for the individual taking that advice, regardless of whether that individual actually then accepts the role.

Further details can be found here:

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Minimum wage increases

It was announced earlier this week that the government has accepted the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission to increase the national minimum wage by 12p for adults, lifting it from £6.19 per hour to £6.31 per hour. It will also increase by 5p to £5.03 per hour for 18-to-20-year-olds and by 3p to £2.68 per hour for apprentices.

These rises will take effect in October 2013.

Further details can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22153007

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The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has just published a ‘Progress on Reform’ report

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has just published a ‘Progress on Reform’ report which sets out a new implementation timetable in respect of some of the more major employment law reforms due to come into force later this year. Many of these reforms were originally scheduled to come into force as early as April 2013 but have now been delayed.

In its report, BIS reiterates that the government’s overall intention behind the reforms is to create greater flexibility in the labour market through the use of ‘light touch’ regulation. This is on the premise that such flexibility will give employers the confidence to hire people whilst knowing they can reduce the size of their workforce at any time when economic circumstances dictate.

The new timetable that has been unveiled for the employment law reforms is as follows:

In the summer of 2013 the following reforms are intended to come into force:
•protected settlement conversations;
•revised rules on employment tribunal procedures;
•the 12 month earnings cap on compensatory awards for unfair dismissal claims;
•new tribunal fees; and
•a stricter regime for whistleblowing laws.

In the autumn of 2013 the following reforms are intended to come into force:
•the introduction of employee shareholder status; and
•reforms to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE).

It is also understood that 2014 will see the implementation of:
•ACAS Early Conciliation; and
•the introduction of tribunal penalties for employers where there have been aggravating features to a tribunal case.

For more information on the new timetable and the government’s recent comments on the reforms in general, please go to:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/141918/13-P136-employment-law-2013-progress-on-reform1.pdf

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ACAS Consultation on Settlement Agreements opens

ACAS has now launched a consultation on a new ‘Code of Practice on Settlement Agreements’. The Code, which aims to help everyone in the workplace understand how settlement agreements will work in practice, is due to come into effect alongside new legislation governing the use of settlement agreements by employers and employees.

Under the new legislation, any offers or discussions regarding settlement agreements will not be able to be used in evidence in unfair dismissal claims unless either of the parties has engaged in ‘improper behaviour.’ The definition of ‘improper behaviour’ is one of the issues that will be dealt with in the accompanying ACAS Code.

The consultation on the Code closes on 9 April 2013 and can be found here: http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/k/s/Acas-consultation-on-Draft-Code-of-Practice-on-Settlement-Agreements-February-2013.pdf

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