Employment

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014 was published last week. So, what does it propose?

Zero hours contracts

Zero-hours contracts will be defined and any clause which tries to stop the worker working for somebody else, even when no work is guaranteed, will be void. Further details on new rights for zero-hours workers will be contained in separate regulations.

Enforcing tribunal awards

An ‘enforcement officer’ will give a 28-day warning notice if a tribunal award remains unpaid. If the monies are not then paid by the respondent, a ‘penalty notice’ will be issued. The penalty will be 50% of the outstanding amount, subject to a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000. If the full sum and the penalty are then paid within 14 days, the penalty is reduced by 50%. The penalty is payable to the Secretary of State, not the claimant.

Tribunal postponements

The employment tribunal procedural rules will be amended to limit the number of postponements available to a party and to require the tribunal to consider making a costs award if the postponement application is late.

National minimum wage

The maximum financial penalty for underpayment of the national minimum wage will increase to £20,000 per worker. Currently the maximum is a £20,000 total for any number of underpaid workers in a reference period.

Whistleblowing

The Bill contains a power to require ‘prescribed persons’, to whom whistleblowing disclosures can be made, to report annually on the disclosures they receive.

Public sector exit payments

Public sector employees and office-holders may be required to repay ‘exit payments’ (e.g. redundancy payments and ex gratia termination payments) if they are re-employed in the public sector within a certain period of time. Separate regulations will contain the details and may provide that the amount to be repaid is tapered according to the time which has elapsed since the termination date.

We will post future blogs on the detail and progress of the Bill.

Julie Keir

Practice Development Lawyer at Brodies LLP
As a Practice Development Lawyer Julie is responsible for developing and maintaining Brodies Workbox, our award-winning online HR and employment law resource.
Julie Keir