The key changes that employers should be aware of are as follows:
With effect from 1 April 2007
- Basic rate statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay and maternity allowance increases to £112.75 per week (from £108.85 per week).
- The changes to maternity and adoption provisions which came into force in October 2006 apply where the expected week of childbirth or placement for adoption is on or after 1 April 2007.
From today, 2 April 2007
- Smoking banned in enclosed public places and workplaces in Wales (Northern Ireland from 30 April 2007 and England from 1 July 2007).
With effect from 6 April 2007
- The rate of statutory sick pay increases to £72.55 per week (from £70.05 per week).
- The right to request flexible working extends to carers of adults.
- The age discrimination legislation will be amended to provide that a dismissal will be unfair if the reason for it is that the employee exercised, or sought to exercise, his or her right to be accompanied at a meeting to request working beyond the intended retirement date.
- The statutory dispute resolution procedures will also apply to complaints of detriment in relation to Information and Consultation representatives and employees, detriment relating to occupational and personal pension scheme representatives and detriment relating to employees of European public limited-liability companies.
- The Information and Consultation Regulations 2004, which oblige employers to institute a formal information and consultation procedure, will apply to all companies with 100+ employees. Employers must establish a framework for consultation with their employees about economic and employment-related matters if a valid employee request is received.
- The obligation to consult before making changes to occupational and personal pension schemes will be extended to cover undertakings with 100+ employees.
- The provisions of the Companies Act 1985 relating to the enforced retirement of directors aged 70+ in public companies or private companies which are subsidiaries of public companies will be repealed.
With effect from 30 April 2007
There will be protection against discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief and sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services.
The definition “any religion, religious belief or [similar] philosophical belief” for the purposes of the prohibition on discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief will be amended by the deletion of the word “similar”. It will then cover being of no religion or belief and the scope of “philosophical belief” will be widened.