Redundancy consultation period will be halved


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.


Flexible Parental Leave from 2015


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


Unfair dismissal qualifying period to increase to 2 years


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.


New Agency Worker Regulations


On 1st October 2011 the New Agency Worker Regulations come into force. They require that the basic working and employment conditions of agency workers are no less favourable than if the workers had been recruited directly by the hirer. The equal treatment entitlements relate to pay and other basic working conditions and come into effect after an agency worker completes a 12-week qualifying period in the same job with the same hirer, which starts on 1 October 2011 and is not retrospective for those agency workers already on assignment.

As an employer, if you hire temporary agency workers through a temporary work agency, you will need to provide the agency with up-to-date information on your terms and conditions so that it can ensure that the agency worker receives the correct equal treatment, after 12 weeks in the same job.

Equal treatment
Once the agency worker completes a 12-week qualifying period with you, in the same role, they will be entitled to have the same basic terms and conditions of employment as if they had been employed directly by the company. These are:

  • pay
  • duration of working time
  • night work
  • rest periods
  • rest breaks
  • annual leave

As the business owner you are responsible for ensuring that all agency workers can access your facilities and have access to your job vacancies from the first day they work at your setting.

Pregnant agency workers who have completed the 12- week qualifying period will be entitled to paid time off for antenatal appointments.

Calculating the qualifying period

The qualifying period is triggered by working in the same job with the same hirer for 12 calendar weeks. A calendar week is any period of seven days, starting with the first day of an assignment. Calendar weeks will be accrued regardless of how many hours the worker does on a weekly basis. So if an agency worker is on assignment for only a couple of hours a week, it still counts as a week and they will be entitled to equal treatment after 12 calendar weeks.

An agency worker can bring a claim for compensation to a tribunal if they are not receiving their entitlement under the regulations. The compensation would be equal to the losses they had suffered because they did not receive it. If the worker successfully brings a claim for failing to provide the benefits from day one, the liability will be solely with the hirer.

If you are going to hire agency workers, seek advice to ensure you follow the regulations.