Employment law changes for autumn 2015

Employment law is updated every autumn, and this October is no exception, with a number of changes just around the corner that employers and employees should know about and be ready for.

Here they are in summary:

• From October 2015, all employers turning over £36m and more will need to publish an annual statement on modern slavery. This will include steps taken to eliminate modern slavery playing any part in its business.

• Turban-wearing Sikhs will be exempt from having to wear safety helmets in all workplaces. This rule currently affects building sites – now the exemption is extended to places such as factories, warehouses and the like, and also to transport vehicles used for work.

While some (very limited) situations still exist where Sikh staff members will have to wear head protection, this is mainly for armed forces personnel or those who work in emergency response.

• The National Minimum Wage is set to rise, so if you are an employer you need to pay at the new rate, while if you are an employee, you need to be sure you have got your pay rise.

The adult rate from 1st October is £6.70 rather than £6.50, while rates for apprentices and young workers have also gone up.

• Employment tribunals lose their right (from 1 October) to make recommendations affecting the wider workforce. They are restricted to commenting on individual employees’ particular circumstances.

• Company vehicles will have to be smoke-free from the start of October – unless the car or other vehicle is mainly used privately. Smoke-free legislation also bans smoking in all private cars carrying children under 18 as passengers. Similar rules already apply in Wales, and will also extend to Scotland in due course. Company car policies may need to be revised as a result.

• Referrals under the Fit for Work service will also be fully operational this autumn. The service aims to help staff return to work after an absence due to ill health. Employers will have the chance to refer a staff member for a free of charge occupational health examination if someone has been away for around a month. This already applies in Scotland.

Make sure you’re up to speed with these changes and how they affect you. Seek legal advice if you are in any doubt. At Marlow Braide we can help any employee who feels they have been treated unfairly – get in touch today for an informal, confidential chat.

by Marlow Braide Solicitors