October sees the introduction of the following changes in employment law:
National Minimum Wage increases – the annual rise in NMW rates apply as follows:
- Workers aged over 21 – £6.70 per hour
- Workers aged 18 to 20 – £5.30 per hour
- Workers aged 16 to 17 – £3.87 per hour
- Apprentices – £3.30 per hour
Employers also need to prepare for the introduction of the National Living Wage next spring. From April 2016, employer will be required to pay workers over the age of 25 the “living wage” rate of £7.20 per hour.
Employers are free, if they so wish, to voluntarily subscribe to the “UK Living Wage” rate which is currently set (independent of government) at £7.85 per hour.
- Extension of the Sikh safety helmet exemption – if they so wish, Sikhs have already been exempted from wearing safety helmets on construction sites. This has now been extended to nearly all other workplaces and applies even if health and safety laws would require non-Sikhs workers to wear a safety hat. Some limited exceptions to these rules apply to work/training in the emergency services and the military.
- Relaxation of health and safety obligations of the self-employed – where someone is self-employed and has no staff, their obligations under the Health & Safety at Work Act will now only apply if they carry out certain “prescribed” activities where there is likely to be some potential risk of harm to others.
- Ban on smoking in cars with children – drivers of private vehicles are now prohibited from smoking in their cars with passengers under the age of 18. Employers should check whether this could apply to staff carrying out their duties and, if so amend staff handbooks and policies accordingly.
Whether you need an informal chat to talk through any of these changes or want more detailed advice on any aspect of employment law and HR, Newtons’ experienced team of employment law specialists would be delighted to help.
We look forward to working with you.