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Redundancy consultation period will be halved

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The Government have announced plans to reduce the current 90 day minimum period, before large-scale redundancies can take place to 45 days. This controversial announcement has prompted Unions to accuse the Government of making it easier to sack staff.

At present, companies must consult with staff for a minimum of 30 days before making more than 20 staff redundant, or 90 days when 100 or more jobs are at risk.

The changes form part of the government’s commitment to review employment law to support business and concentrate on growth.

Draft regulations will be laid in the New Year and the changes are expected to be made with effect from 6 April 2013.


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Flexible Parental Leave from 2015

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The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced this week that a new flexible parental leave system will be implemented from 2015

  • Mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave, but having taken the first two weeks after the birth of their child, the rest can be shared with the partner taking some, or both parents taking some together
  • The only rule is that no more than 12 months can be taken in total; with no more than 9 months at guaranteed pay

Currently, fathers can take 2 weeks of paternity leave around the time a baby is born and can then take a further 26 weeks (additional paternity leave) – but only when the baby is 20 weeks old and even then, only if the mother has returned to work. The new plans are aimed at supporting more women to get back into the workplace whilst giving partners the option to care for their child.

You can watch the video announcement from Nick Clegg here


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Vetting & Barring changes – 3 things employers will NEED to know

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From 10 September 2012, a number of amendments to the vetting and barring scheme came into force. For those who don’t about Vetting & Barring, to sum up, it is a law which is designed to protect vulnerable individuals. If you are an employer it is essential you know about these changes.

3 things you need to know:

  1. There is no longer a duty to refer information to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) in relation to individuals carrying out “controlled activities”, ie roles that are not regulated activities but that allow holders the opportunity to have contact with vulnerable groups or to have access to certain records relating to vulnerable groups.
  2. The definition of a “regulated activity” in relation to children is narrowed and covers fewer job roles.
  3. The Act amends the definition of a vulnerable adult as well as what constitutes “regulated activity” in relation to them.

For more information about the changes, you can download a pdf from the home office website here


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Unfair dismissal qualifying period to increase to 2 years

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Under the current legislation, employees must have been with an employer for at least one year before they can make a claim for unfair dismissal. From 6th April 2012 the Government has announced an increase in the qualifying period to 2 years.

This change follows the ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’ consultation which was launched by the Government earlier this year, expecting to cut the number of unfair dismissal claims by over 3,000 per year. However the change will not be retrospective. Employees who joined an employer before 6th April 2012 will still be subject to a one year qualifying period. Only employees who join an employer after this date will see the change.


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Employers beware – careless talk can cost

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A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal case highlights the issues with staff socialising and the careless talk and gossip that arises from the event. The case in question examined the events of a firm of solicitors Christmas Party.

At this event, a female employee who was already in a personal relationship with another employee of the firm caused a stir. She was seen kissing the IT Manager, and at the end of the evening they were seen leaving together and alledgedly shared a hotel room.

Shortly after the new year, the female employee informed her employers of her pregnancy. On finding this out, a suggestion was made by the HR Manager about the paternity of the baby. According to the female employee, the HR Manager had also been gossiping and spreading rumours about her pregnancy, which resulted in the IT Manager asking for clarification as to the paternity of the baby.

The female employee issued employment tribunal proceedings claiming sex and pregnancy discrimination, harassment and constructive dismissal. The EAT found that this did constitute sexual and pregnancy related discrimination and the behaviour from the HR Manager was unacceptable.

This case reminds employers about their legal responsibility for the behaviour of their employees, especially during and after any social events. It also highlights the importance of ensuring grievances are dealt with promptly and swiftly.


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