Employment Law update

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27 July 2010

Employment law is constantly changing.  The employment team have put together a list of some of the recent changes that may affect farming businesses.

Time off for study or training

From 6 April 2010, employees with six months' service have the right to request unpaid time off for study or training.  Employers are required to seriously consider a request and can only refuse for specified business reasons. The right will initially only apply to businesses with 250 or more employees, but will be extended to all businesses in April 2011. 

Equality Act

 

This is expected to come into force in October 2010. It contains a number of key provisions for employers in the agricultural sector including the following:

  • Employers will only be able to ask health questions of a job applicant in certain limited circumstances;
  • Discrimination by association (e.g. harassing someone because they have a disabled son) and by perception (e.  g. refusing someone a pay rise because you think they are gay even if they are not) will be explicitly prohibited; and
  • Employers will be liable in certain circumstances for  harassment of their employees by contractors, customers and visitors in the workplace.

Sharing the burden

Additional paternity leave, which will apply to parents of children due on or after 3 April 2011, allows a mother to transfer some of the last 6 months of her additional maternity leave or additional adoption leave to the father of her child so that she can return to work.

Going up

An increase in the national minimum wage from 1 October 2010 has also been announced.  The new rates will be £5.93 per hour for workers aged 21 and over;  £4.92 per hour for 18-20 year olds; and £3.64 per hour for 16-17 year olds.  For agricultural workers, the provisions of the current Agricultural Wages Order will of course apply.

Full refund available

As a result of recent case law, employers will find it difficult to refuse to allow employees who are sick whilst on holiday to take their holiday after they have recovered and to carry over their holiday entitlement into the next holiday year, if the employee requests this. Employers should review their absence management procedures to ensure they are dealing with sickness absence effectively.

For further information contact  Huw Cooke on 0117 902 7719 or email huw.cooke@burges-salmon.com

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