Else’s specialist employment solicitors are calling on employers to take notice of the recent changes to employment legislation.
The government had another of its regular ‘red tape days’ in April 2014. Several changes were made to various aspects of employment law.
Most of them have now come into force, although a couple of changes that were scheduled have now been deferred to later dates.
In case you missed any of them, Our expert employment solicitors in Burton on Trent have highlighted the most important alterations for employers.
Statutory Discrimination Questionnaire: No Longer An Obligation
The legal imperative for employers to respond to questions from individual employees regarding discrimination in the workplace has been abolished.
Previously, employers were obliged to respond to such questions within eight weeks. The government has decided to take away this requirement, enabling employers to ignore these questions.
They may for example wish to do this if they consider them to be unreasonable or part of a tactic by an employee or their legal team.
However, our employment solicitors would strongly advise employers to abide by the Acas ‘best practice’ guidelines. These advise employers to take such questions seriously and address them promptly.
Importantly, an employment tribunal can still look at whether an employer decided to respond or not. It can also draw inferences from their response, or failure to respond. In addition, tribunals will still have the power to order an employer to answer questions related to alleged discrimination.
Illegal Migrant Workers: Employer Penalty Doubled
The highest penalty for employers who are found to have employed illegal migrant workers, that is workers who do not have the legal right to live or work in the UK, has been increased from £10,000 to a new maximum of £20,000.
Flexible Working: Requests Now Open To All
All employees who have clocked up at least 26 weeks continuous service with their employer now have the right to request flexible working arrangements. This means all staff now have an equal right to make a request, and no longer need to be a parent or carer.
However, whether or not the request is granted remains at the discretion of the individual employer.
Employers have the right to use their own individual HR procedures to deal with these enquiries, but they are obliged to act reasonably and to respond within three months.
This change to the law was scheduled for April 2014 but will now come into force from 30 June 2014.
Health And Work Service: Introduction Delayed
The introduction of state-funded occupational health assessments has been delayed and the scheme will be phased in from October 2014 to April 2015.
Under this new arrangement, both employers and GPs can refer an employee for an assessment if they have been off sick for more than four weeks.
If employees fail to engage with the process they can lose their right to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).