Key Employment Law Changes for 2011
1. Abolition of the Default Retirement Age
One of the biggest legal changes employers will have to contend with in 2011 is the abolition of the default retirement age (DRA). Although the DRA will not be completely abolished until 1 October 2011, transitional arrangements will come into force from 6 April 2011.
During the six-month transitional period employers will be unable to issue new notifications of retirement but those already in motion before 6 April can continue through to completion if:
- a notification of retirement is issued by the employer prior to 6 April 2011;
- the date of retirement is before 1 October 2011; and
- the requirements of the statutory retirement procedure are met.
The default retirement age will be completely abolished on 1 October and employers will be prohibited from retiring employees by means of the default retirement age from this date.
2. Changes to Maternity and Paternity Leave provisions
In April there will be two changes to maternity and paternity leave provisions:
Fathers of children with an expected week of birth beginning on or after 3 April 2011 will be allowed up to 26 weeks’ additional paternity leave if the mother returns to work before using her full entitlement to statutory maternity leave.
On the same date, the rates for statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay will increase from £124.88 to £128.73 per week.
3. Right to Request Fexible Working Extension
The right to request flexible working will be extended to parents of children under 18 on 6 April 2011. It currently applies to parents of children under the age of 17, or 18 if the child is disabled.
The Government has also announced that it intends to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees and will consult on the proposals in January 2011. Consultation will be completed by March 2011 and the Government will review the responses by December 2011.
4. Equal treatment for Agency Workers
From 1 October 2011, agency workers will be entitled to equal treatment on basic employment conditions, such as pay and holidays, after they have worked in a role for 12 weeks, under the Agency Workers Regulations.
5. Equality Act 2010
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers will be able to treat individuals with a protected characteristic more favourably during recruitment and promotion processes when faced with two or more candidates of equal merit, if the more favourable treatment is intended to address under-representation in the workforce.
The single public sector equality duty will also be introduced and both provisions will come into force on 6 April 2011.
6. Bribery Act 2010: corporate offence introduced
In April 2011, a corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery by people working on behalf of the business will be introduced under the Bribery Act 2010