On 1 October 2015, further provisions of the Deregulation Act 2015 (“Act”) were put into place.
There are a number of changes made by the most recent additions, including the requirement for large businesses to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement each year (which will set out the action they have taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery free), removing the power of the Employment Tribunal to make wider recommendations in discrimination cases, an increase in the National Minimum Wage and an extension of the exemption for Sikhs to have to wear a safety helmet at their place of work.
- Slavery and Human Trafficking Reports
Although the implementation date is still to be confirmed (it is more than likely to be this month), large businesses (defined as businesses with a total annual turnover of at least £36 million) will be required to publish a “slavery and human trafficking report” each financial year. This will need to detail the steps an employer has taken to prevent modern slavery existing in any part of their business or supply chain. The statement will need to be published in a prominent place on the organisation’s website (or if a business does not have a website a copy of the statement must be provided within 30 days of receiving a written request for the statement) and a failure to comply could lead to an injunction from the Courts requiring compliance.
The changes are going to hugely impact large businesses and steps need to be taken as a matter of priority.
For more information on the provisions, how they will impact your business and the steps you need to be considering, please see our previous article, 'Global supply chains and human rights: new obligations for business from October 2015'. Although the final implementation date is still to be finalised, it is vital that businesses affected make preparations in advance of the changes.
- Employment Tribunals will no longer be able to make wider recommendations
From 1 October 2015, Employment Tribunals no longer have the power at the end of a successful discrimination claim to make wider recommendations going beyond the particular employee in question.
In practice this was a power that was rarely exercised by the Tribunal. According to the Government’s consultations, the Tribunal has only exercised this power in one case since the relevant provision came into force in October 2010. The Tribunals have retained the power to make specific recommendations in relation to the Claimant of the case before the Tribunal.
- National Minimum Wage increases
From 1 October 2015, the National Minimum Wage will increase from £6.50 per hour to £6.70 per hour for adults. The minimum hourly wage for individuals aged 18-20 will increase from £5.13 to £5.30, under 18s from £3.79 to £3.87 and for apprentices (aged 16-18 or 19 and in their first year of the apprenticeship) from £2.73 to £3.30. All apprentices who do not fall into the above categories are entitled to the adult hourly rate of the National Minimum Wage.
The National Minimum Wage legislation needs to be read in the context of the impending National Living Wage changes, which will become mandatory in April 2016. You can read further information on the National Living Wage here.
- Sikh Safety Helmet Exemption extended to all places of work
The current exemption from Sikhs needing to wear a safety helmet on construction sites is to be extended to all workplaces from 1 October 2015. This means that (subject to the very limited circumstances below) Sikhs will be able to wear a turban instead of a safety helmet. Examples of where this change will impact include factories, warehouses and vehicles involved in transportation.
The limited circumstances in which Sikhs will not be able to benefit from the above rule are:
- Members of the armed forces or a person providing support to the armed forces; and
- Individuals who work, or are training to work, in occupations involving (to any extent) providing an urgent response to fire, riot or other hazardous situations.
- Fit for Work Scheme
It is also worth mentioning that the Government’s Fit for Work Scheme continues to be rolled out. The process was commenced in April 2015.
Although it is not mandatory to refer employees to Fit for Work, the Government has recommended that employers update their sickness absence policies to reflect the availability of Fit for Work.
For further information on the Fit for Work Scheme, including a short podcast on the effect of the Scheme, please see our previous article, 'Fit for Work scheme now available to employers'.