By Jeni McCabe, Senior Consultant
Small businesses flummoxed by challenging employment laws are being urged to prepare for ‘stormy times ahead’.
With a raft of potentially complex new legislation coming into force over the coming months, Dundee-based SCRSolutions Limited is unveiling a programme of workshops aimed at saving stress and money for local businesses.
The company, which last year unveiled new premises in Aberdeen to cope with a growing demand for its services, pinpoints two main changes on the horizon which will cause huge challenges for employers.
2009 saw many changes in employment law. Not only were employers battling with the economic crisis, they were also bombarded with changes to major employment legislation. This year, the controversial Equality Bill will be the biggest challenge with lots of areas being affected. It was due to come out in October 2010, however, there are still disagreements over its contents. It will now be up to the Government elected in June to decide if it will be implemented in its current form, if at all. With talk of the removal of the default retirement age and more rights for homosexuals, the Equality Bill is the centre of much debate at the moment and may continue to do so for some time to come.
Meanwhile, ‘Rights for Agency Workers’, expected to come in to force in early 2011, may significantly restrict an employer’s ability to rely on temporary staff for long-term vacancies.
Jeni continued, Basically, these rights will give agency workers the same rights as permanent employees after just 12 weeks’ placement. They will gain the right to have the same pay, overtime rates, holiday entitlements and other basic working and employment conditions.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. For the first time ever, the compensation awards for unfair dismissal have dropped from £66,200 to £65,300, becoming effective on 1 February 2010. Meanwhile, the ‘Fit Note’ Scheme intendeds to reduce absence rates by making it harder for employees to be off sick when they are in fact able to attend work, even if it may be for lighter duties. Due to come into effect on 6th April 2010, the system will allow GP’s to give the employer more details of their employee’s health issues and stating what support the employee may benefit from.
SCRSolutions Ltd is holding employment law and health and safety update seminars to help guide employers through the months ahead.
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