Posted On / 23.07.2015

On Guard for the Latest Workplace Law Changes

Dawn Gallie - Head of Employment Team - Employment and HR DepartmentBosses need to keep up with a series of changes to HR and Employment Law, says Dawn Gallie, Head of Employment & HR, of Battens Solicitors

With the gorgeous weather, we may be tempted to skip work and head off to the beach or another sunny spot. Some employees do just that - pulling a "sickie" only to be seen or shown later enjoying themselves on Facebook. Cue potential disciplinary action.

This is just one of the many issues on which the Employment Team at Battens advise. All HR and employment issues are covered from conducting grievance processes, managing sickness absence, taking disciplinary action to advice relating to business sales and purchases.

With new employment laws and regulations being introduced all the time, it can be difficult for employers to keep up.

Latest changes this year include the introduction of Shared Parental Leave. Under this, both parents can now opt to share leave in blocks and can request to split it. They can also choose to take the leave at the same time, being off together with their child.

For those who are already parents, the age limit for the child for whom they can take unpaid parental leave has increased from five to 18 years. The intention is to offer much more scope for parents to take leave until their child is an adult.

As happens every year, increases are on the way for National Minimum Wage rates. From the 1st of October 2015, the adult rate will rise by 20p from £6.50 to £6.70 per hour. There are also increases in the rates for younger employees and apprentices.

A raft of changes to adoption leave and pay, and the rates payable for statutory maternity, paternity and adoption leave, came into operation in April.

Auto enrolment for pensions continues to roll in for smaller businesses. Staging dates for many are fast approaching and measures need to be taken to ensure employers are compliant.

Battens Employment Team is not just here when issues arise or when claims are made. We aim to work with our business clients from the outset to ensure contracts, policies and procedures are all in place and to assist with all day-to-day HR matters. We appreciate companies may be concerned as to the costs of putting these in place. For this reason we set up BattensHR+. This is a fixed-fee annual scheme under which we provide contracts and a staff handbook together with unlimited advice on day-to-day employment issues. Where things do go wrong, clients can opt to add insurance to cover both legal costs and compensation in the event of a claim.

We also keep our clients updated on all the latest changes in Employment Law and HR through training seminars and publications.

Being proactive ensures our clients are able to concentrate on running their businesses, knowing advice is just a quick call or email away. It also ensures employees know what their rights and obligations are and how the business will deal with issues that might arise. Often early communication nips things in the bud and ensures a continued happy working relationship benefitting all.