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Crucial employment law changes come in to force

Construction firms were today being urged to be wary of slipping on a legal banana skin following the introduction of key changes to employment law yesterday.

“These changes are complex and do require expert legal advice to be properly understood and followed,” said Mace & Jones head of employment law Martin Edwards.

“Employers risk costly and time consuming problems if they are not fully prepared and up to speed with these new measures.”

Key changes include:

  • The right to request flexible working has been extended to apply to parents until the day before their child’s 17th birthday (or 18th if the child has a disability). This significantly increases the number of employees who will have this legal right to request.  
  • The statutory dismissal and grievance procedures have been abolished. However, do be aware of the difficult transitional rules that apply to their abolition.  Grievances about matters which occurred or started before this weekend will still come under the old procedures, as will dismissals in which the invite to the decision meeting (the step 1 letter) has been written. Under the new procedures a dismissal can no longer be automatically unfair for failing to follow the procedures and there is no longer the possibility of a 50% uplift on any award, as future uplifts for failing to follow the ACAS code can “only” be 25%.
  • The new ACAS code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures applies to any grievances about events from today and to any disciplinary procedures in which the hearing invite letter is sent on or after today.  Mace & Jones recommends employers reading it prior to any hearings or decision meetings to ensure they are complying.  The more detailed ACAS guidance document may also be worth reading before reaching a decision, but it is considerably longer and does not have the same legal weight as the Code.
  • There are new Tribunal claim and response forms. These can be downloaded at   http://www.employmenttribunals.gov.uk/FormsGuidance/formsGuidance.htm. 
  • Paid holiday increases from 4.8 to 5.6 weeks (this was actually from Wednesday 1st April). For most employers with employees on a five day week, this will already be covered by 20 days plus bank holidays.  However it may raise particular issues with employees who: do not normally get paid bank holidays; have some form of pay which incorporates holidays; have a variable working pattern; or only get paid bank holidays if they are rostered to work those days and do a work pattern that does not cover sufficient bank holidays to make up their legal leave entitlement.

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