Employment Law Update
The Equality Bill – Simplifying the law on equality
Published on 27 April 2009, the Equality Bill intends to combine all existing discrimination legislation into one single statute – therefore simplifying the law on equality. The Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent by early 2010 and is expected to significantly strengthen Britain’s anti-discrimination legislation.
The most controversial proposal in the Bill states that companies with at least 250 employees (this number will be gradually reduced after its introduction) will have to complete a pay audit on a yearly basis and publish the results. This will particularly help to shrink the gender pay gap within many companies. The legislation will also ban clauses which prohibit employees comparing salaries.
Worker Registration Scheme (WRS) continues!
The WRS was expected to come to an end by 30 April 2009, however, the government announced that it will now continue until 2011.
A member from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) comments:
We are pleased that the Government has accepted our advice. Our recommendation to keep the worker registration scheme (WRS) in place was made in the best interests of the UK given the current economic challenges. We believe that abolishing the WRS now might slightly reduce the number of jobs available to UK workers, and that the Government should continue to monitor those who come to the UK seeking employment. MAC member Dr Diane Coyle OBE
This means that employees from Estonia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia must continue to be registered with the Home Office until their 12 months registered work has been completed. Employers who fail to comply with the scheme can be expected to face a fine of up to £5,000.
Statutory Payments Increase
6th April saw an increase in Maternity and Paternity Pay from £117.18 to £123.06 per week, and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from £75.40 to £79.15 (only available to those who earn £90.00 per week or more).
And that’s not all! The Government has recently announced plans to increase the maximum week’s pay when calculating statutory redundancy pay. The budget highlighted that the measure has been introduced to provide sufficient support for individuals who have been made redundant.
It has been announced that the current cap on a gross week’s pay will increase from £350 to £380 for the purposes of calculating statutory redundancy pay. As a result the maximum statutory redundancy payment will rise from £10,500 to £11,400. The increase is likely to have the biggest impact on employers who offer enhanced redundancy payments calculated by multiplying the statutory amount. Alison Davies, Employment Associate
Case of the month. Disability discrimination
We look at a case which provides some useful reminder to employers that it may not be instantly apparent that an employee has a disability. Mr Heiro suffered from dysphoria (an anxiety condition) which includes manifestations such as difficulty in speech and concentration, for which he took medication to control.
Mr Heiro claimed that he was turned down for a job with an online recruitment company when the employer learned that that he had a disability, so he claimed disability discrimination. The Employment Tribunal decided that there were no considerable adverse effects caused by his condition and so it did not come within the definition of a disability within the Disability Discrimination Act.
An impairment which would be likely to have a substantial adverse effect on the ability of the person concerned to carry out normal day-to-day activities, but for the fact that measures are being taken to treat or correct it, is to be treated as having that effect.Discrimination Act 1995
Therefore, employers need to be careful when dealing with employees who, for example, are having performance issues but seem to be reasonably healthy.
Remember! Medication may be disguising the effects of a disability and employers may have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for the employee in question.
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