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latest news in employment law

1st April 2011 - Holidays Act & Employment Relations Act Amendments

Published 01 Jan 2011

Holidays Act Amendments
  • Employers need to ensure that payroll software is updated prior to 1st April because:
    • The 'relevant daily pay' calculation - used for calculating sick pay, bereavement leave pay, public holiday pay and alternative holiday pay – changes;
    • The employer is permitted to "pay out" one week of annual holidays.
  • Employers need to become familiar with the rules relating to "paying out" the annual holidays entitlement - because if the employer pays out when the employee has not requested it, effectively the employer will pay twice.
  • Employers will need to ensure that they are recording any "pay out" of annual holidays correctly on the Holiday and Leave record.
  • Employers may want to arrange "transfers" of public holidays, which will be permitted from 1st April 2011, in certain circumstances.
Employment Relations Amendments
  • Employers may need to provide information to managers about the changes to the right of union access to the workplace. Although the law changes to require a union to request the consent of the employer before entering the workplace, there are rules about 'consent' and the employer must not unreasonably withhold consent. Penalties apply for unreasonably withholding consent, or failing to give consent.
  • Employers need to check their employment agreements and ensure that they include all the compulsory information. From 1st April, an employer who provides a defective employment agreement is liable for a penalty.
  • From the 1st July - the employer is required to retain a copy of each employee's individual employment agreement, or any proposed employment agreement. Employers will need to issue appropriate instructions to staff involved in offering employment and handling employment agreements. Failing to comply could result in the employer incurring a penalty.
  • From 1st April 2011, all employers can use the 90 day trial period - currently it is restricted to employers who employ 'fewer than 20' employees on the day that the agreement is entered into. 90 day trial periods need to be used carefully and staff who are responsible for interviewing and recruiting new employees need training.
  • The 1st April 2011 changes place emphasis on the fair (investigatory) process before any dismissal (or warning). Employers should ensure that all staff who have the power to issue warnings, or dismiss, are trained, and that the employer has guidance in place to avoid unjustifiable dismissal personal grievances.
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