Employment law changes from 1 October 2015

control-427510_1280A number of employment law changes came into force today, 1 October 2015.

National Minimum Wage (NMW)

The NMW rates are now as follows:
• £6.70 per hour for a worker who is aged 21 years or over;
• £5.30 per hour for a worker who is aged 18 years or over (but is not yet aged 21 years);
• £3.87 per hour for a worker who is aged under 18 years;
• £3.30 per hour for a worker to whom the apprenticeship rate applies.

Extension of Sikh safety helmet exemption

Turban-wearing Sikhs are already exempt from wearing safety helmet on construction sites. From 1 October this exemption has been extended to all other workplaces, with limited exceptions for certain roles in the Armed Forces and emergency services.

Modern slavery statements

As part of the Government’s strategy to stamp out modern slavery (which includes slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking), from 1 October employers with an annual turnover of £36 million per year or more will have to publish a modern slavery statement each year. In their statement, employers must state the steps they have taken to prevent modern slavery existing in any part of their business or supply chain.

The Government will be publishing guidance on this, but in the meantime businesses who will be require to publish modern slavery statements need to be looking into their supply chains, operational structures and risk management processes to ensure that they can comply with the new law.

Ban on smoking in cars with children

Under existing legislation, smoking is not permitted in Company vehicles unless the vehicle is mainly for the employee’s personal use. From 1 October, drivers of private cars in England are banned from smoking in them when they have passengers who are under 18 years of age. A similar ban is already in existence in Wales, and Scotland is also in the process of introducing a ban.
Employers now need to review their smoking and company car policies since employees with a company car which is mainly for personal use will be covered by the ban if they use their car for transporting their children.

Employment Tribunals lose the power to make wider recommendations

From today, Employment Tribunals no longer have the power to make recommendations which go beyond the employee’s own circumstances in a discrimination claim. The power to make recommendations for the benefit of the wider workforce was, however, little used in practice.

For advice on any of these changes, contact Helen Kay on or .

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