On 6 December 2007 the Employment Bill was published in the House of Lords. It aims to simplify, clarify and develop a stronger enforcement regime for certain aspects of employment law. Provisions include:
- changes to the law relating to dispute resolution in the workplace as a response to the Gibbons review. This will include:
- repealing the current statutory dispute resolution procedures and related provisions about procedural unfairness in dismissal cases,
- changes to the law relating to conciliation by Acas
- revision of the Acas code on discipline and grievance and tribunals will be able to adjust awards by 25% where parties have unreasonably failed to follow the code,
- the delivery of a more straightfoward and transparent enforcement and penalties regime for the national minimum wage (NMW) and employment agency standards,
- compliance with the European Court of Human Rights decision in Aslef v UK which concerned the rights of trade unions to determine their members.
Will apply to Great Britain, but the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, which is amended in clauses 8 to 13 also extends to Northern Ireland.
No implementation date has been given but the Bill is likely to come into force in April 2009.
The text of the Bill, explanatory notes and details of its progress through Parliament are available on the Parliament website.
More information on the Bill can be found on the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) website.
Details of the revised Acas code are available in the Codes of practice section. Acas has published draft non-statutory guidance to complement the code.
Education and Skills Bill
The Bill was published on 29 November 2007 and aims to meet the ambition set out in the Leitch Review of achieving world class skills by 2020. Key proposals include:
- raising education or training leaving age to 17 years by 2013 and to 18 years by 2015
- giving adults a right to basic and intermediate skills and enabling the benefits of adult skills to be measured.
Will apply to the United Kingdom.
The text of the Bill, explanatory memorandum and details of its progress through Parliament are available on the Parliament website.
Additional paternity leave
In March 2006 the Government published a consultation paper on how to implement the scheme under the Work and Families Act 2006 which will allow employed fathers to take up to 26 weeks Additional Paternity Leave (APL), some of which could be paid if the mother has returned to work. The Government intends to introduce the scheme alongside the extension of statutory maternity pay and statutory adoption pay to twelve months. Consultation ended on 31 March 2006.
In November 2006 the Government published its response to the consultation. The response and further information is available on the Department Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform website.
In May 2007 the Government launched a further consultation on the administration of APL following the November 2006 response. Employed fathers (including civil partners or adoptive parents) will be able to take up to 26 weeks additional paternity leave, some of which can be paid if the mother of the child returns to work. Consultation ended on 3 August 2007. The earliest date that the leave would be implemented would be for babies due on or after 5 April 2009, but this was not definite. In January 2008 the Government published its response to the consultation. The consultation paper and Government response is available on the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform website.