What we can expect during 2014...
Although likely to change throughout the year, as it stands at the moment, we can expect the following to be introduced/implemented throughout 2014.
The roll-out of Pensions Auto-enrolment will continue and will reach employers with 350 – 499 employees. From the start of 2014, those employers will be expected to offer all employees a ‘qualifying’ pension scheme or alternatively, to register with the NEST scheme.
Employment restrictions on nationals from Bulgaria and Romania have been lifted with effect from the 1st January 2014, allowing them to freely seek employment within the UK.
The Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE) reforms, as reported in September 2013, are expected to take effect on 31st January.
The ‘regulation freeze’ which exempted businesses with fewer than 10 employees from applying burdensome employment regulations will continue and is expected to be extended to include businesses with fewer than 50 employees. This will apply to any new regulation coming into force after 31st March 2014.
An employment allowance will be introduced under the National Insurance Contributions Bill; this will entitle every business and charity to a £2,000 reduction in their employer national insurance contributions bill each year.
A further change to Pensions Auto-enrolment will see the time-period for employers to auto-enrol eligible employees (workers) into a qualifying pension scheme will be extended from one-month to six-weeks. The deadline for providing information to the Pensions Regulator will also be extended from 1st April 2014.
The ‘early conciliation’ scheme will be introduced on 6th April 2014; this will mean that all claimants will have send details of their dispute to ACAS, who will attempt conciliation/settlement, before a claim can be submitted to a Tribunal.
Provisions within the Equality Act 2010 covering ‘discrimination questionnaires’, by which an individual can obtain information about potential discrimination from an alleged discriminator, will be removed on 6th April 2014.
A financial penalty of up to £5,000 can be levied by Employment Tribunals against employers who are found to have breached an employee’s employment rights will be introduced on 6th April 2014.
Rates of statutory payments (Sick Pay, Maternity/Paternity/Adoption Pay) are expected to increase, as will the weekly earnings threshold for these payments. Further information on these rates will be published as it is known.
• It is expected that Employment Tribunals will be able to order an employer to carry out an equal pay audit, in circumstances where it is clear that they have breached the equal pay provisions in the Equality Act 2010.
Employment Related Acts and Bills
The following bills are continuing through Parliament and changes falling out of them are expected to be seen during the course of the year:
The Pensions Bill, bringing further changes to the state pension was introduced to the House of Commons in May 2013 and this continues to progress through Parliament.
The Children and Families Bill, introduced in February 2013 is also continuing to progress through Parliament. One of the key changes brought about by this Bill is the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees will be introduced this year; which originally had been expected to be implemented on 6th April, but delays to the passage through Parliament of the Bill, mean that this date is now unrealistic and we await details of a new implementation date. The remaining provisions including; shared parental leave system, statutory shared parental pay and the right to time off for antenatal care are expected in 2014 – 2015.
The National Insurance Contributions Bill, introduced in October 2013 is also continuing through Parliament and one of the key changes introduced by this bill has been outlined above.
Finally, the Immigration Bill, contains provisions to further reform the immigration system.
In all cases, we will continue to monitor these areas and report on any changes/developments.
Information Source; the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development