October’s key changes in employment law

by DLA Piper
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Nicholas Jew, a Partner in our Birmingham office comments: One of the less welcome employment law reforms implemented by the Coalition government has been the decision to do away with the practice that new employment law is implemented only in April and October. However, despite the legislative free-for-all of the past few months, there are still some key employment law changes which will be coming into force on the traditional date of 1 October.

Abolition of third-party harassment

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA 2013) will repeal the third party harassment provisions in section 40(2) to 40(4) of the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010). Claimants who are harassed by third parties after 1 October 2013 will have to rely on the “normal” harassment provisions in section 26 EqA 2010, or seek to establish liability under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The definition of harassment in section 26 of EqA 2010 provides that harassment can occur where conduct is “related to” a protected characteristic. This means that employees may be able to argue that an employer’s inaction in the face of third-party harassment was itself unwanted conduct “related to” a protected characteristic that violated their dignity or created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. However, this will be a high threshold and it is unlikely there will be many successful claims.

Directors’ remuneration

ERRA 2013 introduces a new voting and disclosure regime for the remuneration of directors of quoted companies. These companies will be required to implement a directors’ remuneration policy which is subject to binding shareholder approval, by way of ordinary resolution, at least once every three years. Shareholder approval will be required if the directors wish to change the policy within that three year period or the annual report on remuneration was not approved at the last accounts meeting.

National minimum wage

The national minimum wage (NMW) rates will increase. The standard adult rate (for workers aged 21 and over) will rise to £6.31 an hour (up from £6.19). The development rate (for workers aged between 18 and 20) will rise to £5.03 an hour (up from £4.98).The young workers rate (for workers aged under 18 but above the compulsory school age who are not apprentices) will rise to £3.72 an hour (up from £3.68).The rate for apprentices will rise to £2.68 an hour (up from £2.65). The accommodation offset will rise to £4.91 a day (up from £4.82).

The NMW will also now apply to agricultural workers

In addition, on 7 October 2013 a new single fee remission scheme for all courts and tribunals users will come into force. Under the new scheme, an applicant’s disposable capital and gross monthly income will both be assessed to determine whether they are eligible for a fee remission.

No further legislative changes have been confirmed as being implemented in 2013, although more detail on the proposed changes to TUPE in early 2014 should be forthcoming shortly.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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