October - when the clocks go back but you need to look forward

A number of changes to employment law took effect from the 1st October.

You need to take this opportunity to ensure that you are aware of these changes and to ensure that your policies, practices and procedures reflect them so that your Practice remains compliant.

These changes included the following

The annual increase in the minimum wage

The key new hourly rates which came into effect on 1st October are;

Workers aged over 21 £6.50
Workers aged 18 to 20 £5.13
Workers aged under 18 £3.79
Apprentices £2.73

Equal Pay Audits

You need to be aware that from October 1st, in instances where a claim is presented to an Employment Tribunal and the employer is found to be in breach of equal pay legislation, the Employment Tribunal will be obliged, in certain circumstances, to order the employer to produce an Equal Pay Audit.

This audit must identify any instances of differences in pay between men and women, explain why this is occurring and propose measures for dealing with the occurrence.

Failure to comply with such an order could lead to a £5,000 fine for the employer.

Employee time off to accompany their partner to antenatal classes

From 1st October employees who are in a “qualifying relationship” have the right, to take unpaid leave from work, to accompany their pregnant partner to up to two antenatal classes.

For this purpose an employee will have a “qualifying relationship” with a pregnant woman if:

  • they are the pregnant woman’s husband or civil partner.
  • they live with the woman in an enduring family relationship and are not a relative of the woman.
  • they are the child’s father.
  • they are one of a same-sex couple who is to be treated as the child’s other parent under the assisted reproduction provisions in either section 42 or 43 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (HFEA 2008).
  • they are the potential applicant for a parental order under section 54 of the HFEA 2008 in relation to a child who is expected to be born to a surrogate mother

Time off for each appointment can be up to a maximum of six and a half hours.

Whistleblowing: an updated list of persons prescribed to receive qualifying disclosures

There is now an updated list of people to whom a whistleblower can make a qualifying disclosure.

This includes the introduction of certain persons (e.g. the NSPCC), removal of certain persons and the change in description of certain persons (e.g. the Financial Conduct Authority).

The list applies to a qualifying disclosure made from October 1st onwards.

The Reserve Forces

The first of two changes affecting employers is the removal of the qualifying period of service (currently 2 years) for employees, in civilian employment ,who wish to make an unfair dismissal claim where the primary reason for their dismissal is, or is connected with, their membership of the Reserve Forces.

The change is effective for employees whose employment has been terminated from  1st October.

The second change is the introduction of increased financial assistance for employers whose employees or Partnership partners are members of the Reserve Forces and have been called away on service.

For reservists who work 35 hours a week or more, an allowance of £500 will be paid for each calendar month that they are away on service.

For periods of absence shorter than a month, or for those working less than 35 hours a week, the £500 payment will be pro-rated.

This payment is only for small and medium sized employers and excludes public authorities.

In addition to the above, FPM members can obtain further information via the FPM website. Alternatively members can also email specific questions about employment issues to advice@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk where your question will be treated in confidence and normally answered (by email) within two working days of submission.


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