§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe)
The Department of Trade and Industry is helping business and other stakeholders adapt to changes to employment law and practice. Beginning in 2004, the DTI will implement those changes, which arise from within the UK and on which the Department leads, on only two dates in each year. It will also say at the beginning of each year, through an annual statement of forthcoming employment regulations, what those changes are expected to be.
The two common commencement dates are:April 6—the start of the tax yearOctober 1—when the minimum wage is revised
The harmonisation of commencement dates is intended to ensure that changes to employment policy are made in a co-ordinated fashion and to provide businesses, employee representatives and individuals with greater clarity and awareness about when changes will be made. This should assist all parties to plan for new measures and help implement them effectively. Other Government Departments are considering how they might follow the DTI's lead where appropriate.
This first annual statement details changes to employment law and practice that are due to commence in 2004 where DTI has the lead. It comprises of four Sections:Section A details changes to employment law and practice that are due to commence on 6 April 2004Section B details changes to employment law and practice that are due to commence on 1 October 2004Section C details employment regulations arising from Europe where the coming into force date is different and not aligned to either common commencement dateSection D details other key activity by DTI that will impact on the employment law framework in 2004 and beyond.
Further information on employment laws and the supporting framework is available on the DTI website http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/
Regulations to commence on 6 April 2004
Section A details changes to employment law and practice that are due to commence on 6 April 2004.
6 APRIL '04 CONDUCT OF EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES AND EMPLOYMENT BUSINESSES REGULATIONS
These regulations will apply to the private recruitment industry and will largely update the existing requirements that govern their conduct. Regulations that are out of date and unnecessary are being repealed.
Further information: www.dti.gov.uk/er/agency.htm36WS
6 APRIL '04 EXTENSION OF ACAS ARBITRATION SCHEME TO SCOTLAND
ACAS presently provides an arbitration service to resolve complaints concerning unfair dismissal and flexible working, as an alternative to resolution at Employment Tribunal in England and Wales. This Order will provide arbitration for complaints arising in Scotland. It only impacts on those employers and employees in Scotland who are seeking to use arbitration to resolve a complaint.
Further information: www.acas.org.uk
6 APRIL '04 MATERNITY LEAVE AND PATERNITY, AND ADOPTION LEAVE AND PAY REGULATIONS
Technical amendments to fine-tune the operation of the new laws for working parents introduced in April 2003
6 APRIL '04 REGULATIONS TO AMEND THE NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE TO INTRODUCE NEW FAIR PIECE RATE REGIME
The amendments introduce a system of fair piece rates for output workers (workers that are paid according to how many pieces they produce). Output workers will either have to be paid the minimum wage for all hours worked, or paid under a system called rated output work.
Further information: www.dti.gov.uk/er/nmw
Regulations to commence on 1 October 2004
Section B details changes to employment law and practice that are due to commence on 1 October 2004.
1 OCTOBER '04 ANNUAL REVISION OF NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE
The Low Pay Commission has recommended that on 1 October 2004 the National Minimum Wage should rise to £4.85 per hour for adult workers and £4.10 per hour for those aged 18–21. It is due to report on any fine-tuning of this recommendation in light of economic conditions in February 2004.
The Government have also asked the Commission to report by February 2004 on the possible introduction of a minimum wage for workers aged 16 and 17. It is possible that a new minimum wage rate may be introduced for this group in October 2004. The Government will not make any decision until the Commission has reported.
Further information: www.dti.gov.uk/er/nmw
1 OCTOBER '04 DISPUTE RESOLUTION REGULATIONS
The regulations will introduce new statutory procedures to encourage the resolution of dismissal, disciplinary and grievance disputes in the workplace.
1 OCTOBER '04 DISCIPLINE AND GRIEVANCE CODE OF PRACTICE
To take account of the new statutory procedures a revised version of the widely-used ACAS Code of Practice will take effect. The Code of Practice sets out practical advice and guidance for dealing with disciplinary and grievance matters in the workplace.
Further information: www.acas.org.uk
1 OCTOBER '04 EMPLOYMENT APPEAL TRIBUNAL (EAT) RULES
Amendment of existing EAT Rules arising out of the Employment Act 2002 relating to the handling of costs and expenses. The EAT President has also tabled proposals for changes to the appeal process. The changes will only impact on employers and employees who are resolving a dispute at the EAT.
1 OCTOBER '04 EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL (CONSTITUTION AND RULES OF PROCEDURE) REGULATIONS
The new regulations and rules of procedure will seek to modernise the tribunal system and render it more efficient. The regulations will cover both England and Wales, and Scotland and will impact on employees and their employers who are seeking to resolve a dispute at an employment tribunal.
1 OCTOBER '04 EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNALS: NEW APPLICATION FORMS
Both applicants and respondents (typically employers) will be required to use new forms when dealing with an employment tribunal case. These new forms will require both parties to share more information earlier in the tribunal process. The changes will impact on employees and their employers who are seeking to resolve a dispute at an employment tribunal.
1 OCTOBER '04 EQUAL PAY ACT, RULES OF PROCEDURE IN EQUAL VALUE CLAIMS
The regulations simplify and streamline the complex rules of procedure relating to equal value tribunal cases. The aim is to speed up the independent expert procedure that presently can cause delay.
1 OCTOBER '04 EQUAL PAY ACT, "NO REASONABLE GROUNDS" PROVISION
A short set of regulations will amend the "no reasonable grounds" provision in the Equal Pay Act, in order to clarify it.
1 OCTOBER '04 TUPE REGULATIONS (PROBABLE)
The revision of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (TUPE) take on board amendments to the EC Acquired Rights Directive and will provide more clarity over whether or not the regulations apply to particular contracting-out or analogous situations. They will apply to all businesses in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Note: It is possible that the commencement of the regulations may not take place until 2005.
Other regulations arising from Europe which are not aligned to either common commencement date
The commencement dates of regulations arising from Europe are not fully within the control of the DTI. Section C details employment regulations arising from Europe where it has not been possible to align the coming into force dates with either of the two common commencement dates.
AUGUST '04 WORKING TIME: JUNIOR DOCTORS
Provisions in the existing Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2003 which cover doctors in training will commence on 1 August 2004.
8 OCTOBER '04 THE EUROPEAN COMPANY STATUTE
The Regulation for the European Company Statute, which is entirely voluntary, takes direct effect in all Member States on 8 October. The Regulation is supplemented by a Directive covering the employee involvement arrangements that apply to a European Company. The regulations implementing the Statute will also implement the Directive. It is not possible to align the date with either common commencement date.
Other key activity
Section D highlights other key activity by DTI that will have an impact on the employment law framework in 2004 and beyond. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list. Detailed information on new and existing employment regulations and policies is available on the DTI website www.dti.gov.uk/er
2004 CONSULTATIONS IN 2004
Details of new employment policies and issues under consultation are available on the DTI website. The web page is updated regularly and contains an option to be notified by email whenever a news items is added.
2004 EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BILL 2003
A new Bill on employment relations is currently being taken forward by Parliament. The Bill is mainly concerned with collective labour law and trade union 39WS rights. It is too early to say with certainty when any employment regulations arising from the Bill will commence which will depend on when the Bill receives Royal Assent.
ANNUALLY (1 FEBRUARY '04) ANNUAL REVISION OF EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL AWARD LIMITS.
The law requires the upper limits of the various employment tribunal awards and payments to vary in line with the movement of the Retail Prices Index. These annual changes take effect on 1 February each year and impact on employees and their employers who seek to resolve a dispute at an employment tribunal.
ANNUALLY REVISION OF THE STANDARD RATES OF STATUTORY MATERNITY PAY (SMP), STATUTORY (4 APRIL (04)) PATERNITY PAY (SPP) AND STATUTORY ADOPTION PAY (SAP)
The standard rates of SMP, SPP and SAP are to be increased to £102.80 per week (or 90 per cent. of the person's average weekly earnings if that is less than £102.80). The changes will be included in the Department for Work and Pensions annual uprating order—the Social Security Benefits Uprating Order 2004. For 2004, the increased rates will apply from Sunday 4 April. This is because SMP payment weeks typically begin on a Sunday and follows the precedent for previous years.
SPRING 2005 INFORMATION AND CONSULTATION DIRECTIVE
Implementation of the Information and Consultation Directive, which gives employees in larger firms new rights to information and consultation about the business and the prospects for employment. The intention is to publish a revised version of regulations and draft guidance early in 2004, and to lay the final version of the regulations in Parliament when the Employment Relations Bill has received Royal Assent in 2004. The legislation will come into force in Spring 2005.
2005 EQUAL TREATMENT DIRECTIVE
Implementation of the amended Equal Treatment Directive, which requires equal treatment for men and women. It strengthens the principle of equal treatment contained in the 1976 Equal Treatment Directive. It takes a similar line, where appropriate, to the 40WS Employment and Race Directives under Article 13. Further consultation will take place during 2004. Legislation will come into force no later than October 2005.
OCTOBER 2006 AGE DISCRIMINATION LEGISLATION
Implementation of the elements of the European Discrimination Directive which will outlaw discrimination in employment on the grounds of age. The aim is to make draft regulations by end 2004, after further consultation in the Spring. To allow businesses and employee representatives sufficient time to prepare for the changes, the regulations will not be brought into force until October 2006.
The harmonisation of the commencement dates of employment regulations stems from a recommendation in the Better Regulation Taskforce 2002 report "Employment Regulation: Striking a balance". The Taskforce reported that a common complaint by employers was that changes to employment policy seem to happen in an uncoordinated fashion. It proposed common commencement dates for employment policy.
The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced on 31 March 2003 that the DTI would take the following action:
6 April (the beginning of the tax year) and 1 October (when the minimum wage is revised) will become the two set commencement dates for domestic employment regulations for which the DTI is responsible.For European legislation there will be a three stage approach:(i) the "coming into force" dates in 2003, which have been in the public domain for some time, will remain unchanged;(ii) from January 2004, the DTI will plan the "coming into force" dates for Directives where deadlines have already been set, but which have not yet been implemented, on a case-by-case basis;(iii) the DTI will aim to negotiate three-year transposition deadlines for future EU Directives so that it will have enough time to consult and still align with the two set dates.
Beginning in 2004, DTI will publish an annual statement of forthcoming employment regulations every January.
The DTI will ask central Government to foster inter-departmental co-operation with these changes.
In Budget 2003 the Chancellor said other Government Departments should adopt the same approach.An email alert system (www.dti.gov.uk/email/subscribe.htm) is now available on the DTI website for users to subscribe. Over 3,000 people have already registered.