|What legislation is coming into force?|
1 October has rolled around again, and as one of the “usual” dates for changes to employment legislation to take effect, there are a number of new provisions which will apply from this Saturday.
The main Acts and Regulations which are being amended or introduced are:
- Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (“SDA”);
- Equal Pay Act 1970 (“EPA”);
- National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 (Amendment) Regulations 2005;
- Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2005;
- Employment Relations Act 2004 and related Codes of Practice; and
- Compromise Agreements (Description of Person) Order 2005.
What are the key changes?
Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and Equal Pay Act 1970
A new definition of indirect sex discrimination will be introduced into the SDA, to make it consistent with the other discrimination legislation. The new definition will provide that a person discriminates against a woman if he applies a provision, criterion or practice which applies equally to a man, but which:
puts or would put women at a particular disadvantage when compared with men;
puts her at that disadvantage; and
is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
A new definition of harassment will be introduced into the SDA, which is the same as that already contained in the other discrimination legislation. It will constitute harassment on the grounds of a person’s sex where conduct is carried out which has the purpose or effect of either violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Harassment will include sexual harassment and harassment which is on the grounds of sex, but which is not sexual in nature.
The SDA will now make it clear that less favourable treatment on the grounds of pregnancy or maternity leave constitutes sex discrimination.
Currently, the application of the SDA and EPA is limited to applicants, employees and employment in Great Britain. Employees who work for British organisations wholly outside Great Britain are not covered. The other discrimination legislation extend to employment wholly outside Great Britain if the employer has a place of business at an establishment in Great Britain and the work done is for the purpose of that business and the employee is ordinarily resident in Great Britain when he applied for or was offered the employment or at any time during the course of the employment. A change to reflect this position will be made to the SDA which will cover both the SDA and the EPA.
There will be an eight week limit for responding to sex discrimination questionnaires, rather than the previous “reasonable” time to respond.
Provisions will be included in the EPA to confirm the rights of women on maternity leave to bonuses and pay rises they would have received if they had been at work.
National Minimum Wage
The national minimum wage will increase to £5.05 from £4.85 and the development rate (for workers aged 18-21) will increase to £4.25 from £4.10.
Employment Tribunals Regulations
The new ET1 and ET3 forms will now be compulsory. We provided you with additional information about this in Employment Alert number 108.
Employment Relations Act 2004
Minor changes will be made to employers’ duties in relation to strike ballots and unfair practices during ballots. Changes will also be made regarding industrial action notices. Revised Codes of Practice on Access and Unfair Practices during Recognition and DeRecognition Ballots and Industrial Action Ballots and Notice to Employers, which reflect these changes, will come into force.
Legal executives will be able to advise employees on compromise agreements.
For further details, please contact any of the following members of the McDermott Will & Emery Employment Group:
Tel: 020 7577 3489
Tel: 020 7577 6945
Tel: 020 7575 0330
Tel: 020 7577 3492
Tel: 020 7575 0357
Tel: 020 7575 0304
Tel: 020 7577 3488
Tel: 020 7575 0301