Employment Law Changes – October 2014

New rights to attend antenatal appointments

From 1 October 2014 eligible employees and agency workers will have the right to take unpaid leave to accompany a pregnant woman to two antenatal appointments if they are either: the baby’s father, the expectant mother’s spouse, civil partner, or partner in an enduring relationship, or intended parents of a child in a surrogacy arrangement.
6.5 hours’ unpaid leave is allowed for each appointment. Employers will not be entitled to see the appointment card or letter but can request a signed declaration from the employee containing certain prescribed information.

Employees will have legal protection from any detriment suffered in connection with this right and any resulting dismissal will be automatically unfair. Employers will need to adjust their maternity policies and make their managers aware of the prescribed information.
National Minimum Wage Increases

The National Minimum Wage will increase from 1 October 2014. The standard adult rate will rise from £6.31 to £6.50 an hour. Increases will also be made to the youth development, young workers, and apprentices’ rates, as well as the accommodation offset.
Changes to Employment Tribunal Powers

From 1 October 2014 Employment Tribunals will have the power to order equal pay audits where an employer is found guilty of gender discrimination in relation to contractual or non-contractual pay matters after this date. The audit will involve the investigation of any pay gaps between genders and planning to close unjustified gaps.
Military Reservists

From 1 October 2014, small and medium employers will be able to receive up to £500 per month for each full month a reservist is absent from work (which reduces on a pro-rata basis). This is separate from the direct pay the reservists will continue to receive from the MoD while they are called up. Furthermore, reservist employees will not need to fulfil the requirement of two years’ employment to qualify for an unfair dismissal claim, provided that the claim is connected to their reservist status.
Camilla Beamish