National Minimum Wage increase
From Thursday 1st October 2015, the adult rate of the National Minimum Wage (‘NMW’) has risen from £6.50 to £6.70 per hour, a rise of 20 pence.
The following NMW rates apply:
The rate for 18 to 20 years olds has increased by 17 pence to £5.30 per hour
The rate for 16 to 17 years olds has increased by 8 pence to £3.87 per hour
The apprentice rate has increased by 57 pence to £3.30 per hour
The accommodation offset has increased from £5.08 to £5.35
Sikhs’ rights to wear turbans extended
As the law stands, the right for Sikhs to wear turbans, instead of safety helmets, currently only applies on building sites. This is set to be extended to all workplaces and will be subject to certain exceptions, for instance where it is necessary to protect the individual from a risk of injury, such as a firefighter, a member of the British Army or other hazardous lines of work.
Self-employed exempt from health & safety laws
Following on from Professor Löfstedt’s independent review in 2011 of how to simplify the UK’s health and safety legislation, from the 1st October 2015, if you are self-employed and have no employees, your work does not affect the health and safety of other workers or members of the public, then self-employed individuals will be exempt from health and safety laws. As the health & safety law stands it was concluded that the UK legislation currently goes beyond EU requirements. In fact, various other member states only apply the legislation to those engaged in activities that are particularly hazardous or carry a risk of personal injury or harm to others. The law will still apply to self-employed individuals in the Agriculture, Construction, Gas, Asbestos and Railways sectors. It is estimated that the law will no longer apply to around 1.7 million self-employed individuals.
Tribunals lose power to make wider recommendations in discrimination cases
The Deregulation Act 2015 removes the Employment Tribunal’s (ET) vires to make wider recommendations in discrimination cases. The wider recommendations allowed the ET to make recommendations to respondents with a view to preventing prohibited acts and to assist employers in complying with the Equality Act 2010. Wider recommendations are therefore those that may benefit others addressing systemic failures and not just the claimant personally.
The criticisms that were highlighted by the government in respect of wider recommendations are mainly that they impose an onerous burden on employers and that there is limited evidence to demonstrate that wider recommendations actually result in a change in employers’ practices. There is also no mechanism in place to enforce wider recommendations. Employment tribunals can still make recommendations, but these will be limited to the steps that an employer should take to reduce the effect of the discrimination in relation to the claimant only.