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April 2009 Updates

Increase in maximum weekly pay for statutory redundancy payments

In its budget this month, the Government announced that the cap on a week's pay for statutory redundancy pay purposes will increase from £350 to £380. The Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform ("BERR") has confirmed that this increase will take effect from 1 October this year. The weekly cap will increase once again on 1 February 2010 as part of the normal annual uplift.

A summary of key legislation coming into force this month

  1. The statutory dispute resolution procedures were abolished and replaced by a non-binding ACAS Code of Practice dealing with disciplinary and grievance procedures.
  2. Minimum statutory holiday entitlement under the Working Time Regulations increased from 24 to 28 days (including bank holidays).
  3. Parents with children up to the age of 16 can now request flexible working. Previously, this right only applied to those with children up to the age of 6 (or 18 if the child is disabled).
  4. Statutory maternity pay increased from £117.18 to £123.06 per week and statutory sick pay increased from £75.40 to £79.15 per week.

Disability discrimination and "normal day to day activities"

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held in the case of Chief Constable of Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary v Adams that "normal day to day activities" for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act refer to activities which must be found in a range of employment situations rather than just one particular industry. This means that it does not cover specialist skills, even if they are "normal" within a particular field of employment.

The Equality Bill

The Government has published The Equality Bill this month. The Bill will now go to Parliament for debate and the final Act is expected to come into force in 2010. The main thrust of the Bill is to consolidate all existing discrimination legislation into one Act. Some other parts of the Bill include:

  1. Imposing additional equality duties on public authorities.
  2. New approaches to disability-related and indirect disability discrimination.
  3. Extended coverage of third-party harassment.
  4. A new law prohibiting pay secrecy clauses in employment contracts.

Working Time opt-out to be retained

Member States and the European Parliament have failed to reach agreement on the revised Working Time Directive. This means that, for the foreseeable future at least, the opt-out (vigorously defended by the UK) will remain. The revised Working Time Directive will officially fail when the period of conciliation (during which Member States and the European Parliament attempt to reach agreement on the content of the proposed Directive) comes to an end in May. It will then be for the European Council to decide whether or not it wishes to introduce a new proposed Directive in this area.


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