This month’s employment law update will focus on recent and proposed changes to employment laws and updated guidance on fit notes and supporting mental health in the workplace.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act With effect from the 28th October 2023, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and Exceptions Order 1975 has been amended to reduce the length of time after which certain convictions become ‘spent’. This affects when convictions must be declared to employers. If offenders do not reoffend, the periods are now one year for custodial sentences of a year or less. This is four years for custodial sentences of one to four years in length. A rehabilitation period has been introduced of seven years for custodial sentences above four years. This only applies to less serious offences and not to serious offences in sexual and violent nature. Stringent rules apply where individuals are working with vulnerable people. TUPE Consultation The Government has confirmed that they intend to move forward with the proposed changes to the consultation obligations outlined in the TUPE Regulations 2006. TUPE safeguards employees during the transfer of a business or its segments, including scenarios such as a business sale or outsourcing arrangements. Where TUPE applies, employers are required to inform and consult with representatives of affected employees regarding the transfer. Where no representatives exist, they need to be elected. The changes set out to occur enable employers to engage with affected employees, bypassing the election of representatives, in situations where there are no existing employee representatives and under two conditions:
The business has less than 50 employees.
The transfer impacts less than 10 employees, irrespective of the business’ size.
Draft regulations have been produced which if enacted would bring these changes into effect for transfers taking place on or after the 1st of July 2024. National Living Wage The government has announced an increase to the National Living Wage as a response to the cost-of-living crisis. From April 2024, it will rise from £10.42 to £11.44, which will be expanded to cover 21- and 22-year-olds for the first time. National Insurance Contributions It has also been announced that there will be a cut to National Insurance contributions which will be rolled out from the 6th of January 2024, rather than the new tax year. The main rate of national insurance contributions will reduce from 12% to 10%. New Guidance The government has updated its guidance on fit notes which includes a new checklist for employers and explanations about the forms, giving case study examples. This can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fit-note-guidance-for-employers-and-line-managers/getting-the-most-out-of-the-fit-note-guidance-for-employers-and-line-managers Also, ACAS has updated its guidance on supporting mental health in the workplace which can be accessed here: https://www.acas.org.uk/supporting-mental-health-workplace