Greenwoods Solicitors LLP has updated us on the Queen’s Speech and advises that details of specific proposed employment law changes were limited. However, the Government is proposing reforms to strike laws (see below).
In addition, on Tuesday, the much-talked about ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts came into force under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (SBEE). Also under the SBEE, there is now a substantial increase in potential penalties for employers who breach national minimum wage (NMW) legislation.
The Queen’s Speech took place on 27 May 2015 and the various proposals will be subject to parliamentary timescales.
The ban on zero hours’ exclusivity clauses and the NMW penalty increases came into force on 26 May 2015, under the first commencement order of the SBEE.
Zero hours – ban on exclusivity and further proposals
Any clause in a zero hours contract which prohibits a worker from carrying out work for another employer is now unenforceable. Further provisions are awaited to deal with avoidance tactics which may be used to circumvent the new ban.
Draft regulations were released in March which would extend the prohibition to all contracts where a certain level of weekly income is not guaranteed, with the exception of those workers who earn £20 per hour or more. However, it remains to be seen whether these regulations will be brought into force in their current form.
National Minimum Wage penalties
These have increased from 100% of total unpaid wages capped at £20,000 per notice of underpayment to £20,000 per worker. This could have a significant impact on employers who are found to be in breach of NMW legislation.
Those employers who may be affected by the increase in NMW penalties or the ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts may wish to seek further advice. It is also yet to be seen how far the anti-avoidance proposals will go, including to what extent the ban will apply to a wider group of workers.
Trades Unions Bill
The new Trade Unions Bill will introduce higher strike ballot thresholds so that a minimum of 50% of a union’s members must vote in order for a ballot to be valid. Also, where the strike is by workers of an ‘essential public service’ such as health, education, fire and transport, there is an additional requirement that at least 40% of eligible members need to be in favour of the strike before it can proceed.
For more information or advice, please contact Lisa Jinks, Professional Support Lawyer
Employment & Employee Benefits, Greenwoods Solicitors LLP
Monkstone House, City Road, Peterborough PE1 1JE, T: 01733 887700
Compass House, Vision Park, Histon, Cambridge, CB24 9AD, T: 01223 785300
2 Mitre Court Buildings, Temple, London, EC4Y 7BX, T: 020 3691 2100