Key Employment Law Changes for 2011
Be prepared for 2011 with our run-down of upcoming changes to employment legislation. Here are some of the major pieces of legislation which will affect employers in the coming year:
Changes to Maternity and Paternity leave:
Fathers of children with an expected week of birth on or after the 3rd April 2011 will be entitled to take up to 26 weeks additional paternity leave if the child’s mother does not use her full maternity leave entitlement. From 3rd April 2011, the standard rate of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increases from £124.88 to £128.73.
Increase in Personal Allowance and National Insurance Contributions
The personal allowance for income tax for basic rate taxpayers under 65 will be increased by £1000 on 6th April 2011. The primary employee threshold for National Insurance contributions will also increase by £570, and National Insurance contributions for employees will increase by 1%. For employers, national insurance thresholds will increase by £21 per week, and employer’s national insurance contributions will increase by 1%.
Single Equality Duty
From 6th April 2011, the current separate duties for public bodies relating to equality of race, gender and disability will be replaced with a single equality duty which will also cover sexual orientation and religious belief.
Default Retirement Age Abolished
As of 6th April 2011 the default retirement age will be abolished, and employers will be unable to issue new notifications of retirement using the default retirement age. Employers who give notice of retirement using the default retirement age before the 6th April will be able to retire the employee if his or her retirement date is before 1st October 2011.
Right to request flexible working
From 6th April 2011, the right to request flexible working will be extended to the parents of children under 18.
Right to request time off for training or study
From 6th April 2011, employees of companies with fewer than 250 employees will have the statutory right to request time off for training or study. Employers will be obliged to seriously consider requests, but will be able to refuse requests where there is a good business reason for doing so.
Statutory Sick Pay:
From 6th April 2011, the standard rate of Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £79.15 a week to £81.60.
Positive Action Provisions of the Equality Act
From 6th April 2011, employers will be allowed to treat individuals with a protected characteristic more favourably than others with regards to recruitment or promotion, provided two candidates are of equal merit and the favourable treatment is to address an under-representation or to minimise a disadvantage.
Equal Treatment for Agency Workers
From 1st October 2011, agency workers will have the same basic employment conditions as permanent employees after 12 weeks in a job, including pay and holiday entitlements.