ILLEGAL WORKERS  FEB 08   The government is cracking down on rogue bosses who knowingly employ illegal immigrants and is introducing unlimited fines and up to two years in prison, while those who negligently do so will incurr a fine of up to £10,000 per worker. This new tougher regime was introduced on 29 February 2008 and aims to stamp out the exploitation of foreign nationals without proper work permits.  This is double current maximum penalty. 

INFORMATION AND CONSULTATION OF EMPLOYEE REGULATIONS APRIL 2008          Employers with staff between 50 and 99 are now covered under the ICE Regulations (previously 100+ staff). This gives employees the right to be:                                                                                                                                              * informed about the business's economic situation                                                                                        * informed and consulted about emloyment prospects and informed and                                                           * consulted about decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in the work organisation or contractual relations, including redundancies and transfers.                                                                                                    *Consult with pension scheme members before major changes to pension scheme

CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER APRIL 2008 The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force on 6 April 2008.  Under this act Companies can be prosecuted for management failures that lead to the death of employees or others.                                                                                              

AMENDED REGULATIONS APRIL 2008 Following the success of the former Equal Opportunities Commission in their judical review proceeding before the High Court in February 2007 employers will now be clearly liable for failing to protect employees from harassemnt from third parties such as customers or members of the public. Where harassment has been known to have taken place on two previous occasions, and protective reasonable practicable steps have not been taken, the employer will be vicariously liable.

OVERSEAS WORKERS            Nationals from an EEA Country or Switzerland can usually work in the UK without a work permit if they have appropriate documentation. Some countries new to the EEA have to register under the Workers Registration Scheme within a certain time limit. The government is phasing in gradually a new points based system for non EU migrants during 2008. This will prevent low skilled migrants from coming to work in the UK. Around 12,000 unskilled migrants from non EU countries in Asia, Africa and Asia came to work in the UK in 2006.  This is a 5 tier scheme - Tier 1: highly skilled migrants;      Tier 2: skilled migrants; Tier 3: low-skilled workers; Tier 4: students; Tier 5: temporary workers

RETIREMENT  The default retirement age exemption in the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 allows employers to retire employees at 65, as long as a retirement process is followed. This exemption is currently subject to a challenge by the National Council on Ageing, operating as the Heyday group. The Heyday case states this exemption is inconsistent with the European Directive on age discrimination and the case is to be heard by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). A recent retirement claim at an Employment Tribunal was frozen by an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) pending the decision in the Heyday case. On 23 September 2008 the ECJ advocate general has ruled against the Heyday challenge. Although this is not binding, the advocate general's opinion may be an indication of the ECJ decision, expected in December 2008. Key implication is that this decision exposes all employers to risk if they compulsory retire employees. Public sector employees have direct rights under the European directive and the ECJ agrees with Heyday claims brought now by public sector will be able to proceed. As private sector employees do not have direct rights under the directive if was thought that private sector employees were unaffected by Heyday. The recent claim related to a private sector company this decision suggests that private sector employers may also be at risk. The position is still unclear and employers relying on compulsory retirement should tread carefully and at the very least follow the retirement process by the letter. Default Retirment age will disappear from 1 October 2011.        

1ST APRIL 2009 (LAW)  The minimum statutory holiday entitlement increases to 28 days (20 days plus 8 days bank holiday) from 24 days.

SAFEGUARDING VULNERABLE ADULTS ACT 2006 Independent Safeguarding Authority will vet all individuals, including volunteers wishing to work with children and vulnerable adults. Introduction expected from November 2009 with gradual introduction for exisitng employees. Start date halted by government pending a government review. Watch this space

AGENCY WORKERS       to receive equal rights after 12 weeks engagement. Dependent on EC legislative process before being enacted in the UK.  Expected to come into force 1 October 2011.

EMPLOYMENT BILL   Proposed October 2009 legisltive framework for Gibbons Review for disciplinary and grievance procedures

EMPLOYMENT RETENTION BILL Proposed October 2009 Disabled persons to be given rehabilitation leave

EQUALITY     The new Equality and Human Rights Commission commenced 1st October 2007 and there is currently a Equality Review and Discrimination Law Review current being discussed. Proposals for a Single Equality Bill is currently with the government and response is awaited. Watch this space.

SICK NOTES    New statement of Fitness to Work or 'Fit Notes' replaced the traditional sick notes issued by doctors across the UK from 6 April 2010.

THE BRIBERY ACT 2010 came into force April 2011 requiring employers to have procedures in place to prevent bribery and corruption.

ADDITIONAL PATERNITY LEAVE applies to those with a baby due on or after 3 April 2011. This allows the father (or mother's partner) to take part of the mother's maternity leave so as to allow the mother to return to work.

RIGHT TO REQUEST FLEXIBLE WORKING extended to parents of children under 18 from 6 April 2011.