Pre Employment Screening & Validation Services

1D Mereworth Business centre,
Hermitage Farm, Danns Lane,
Wateringbury, Kent. ME18 5LW

Tel: 01622 817580
Fax: 01622 813675

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Employment Changes from April 2010

“Fit” notes

New fit notes will come into use from 6 April 2010 replacing the existing “sick note” and focusing on what can be done to assist an employee’s return to work. An early proposal to give GPs the option to certify an employee as “fit for work” was rejected in favour of the more ambivalent “you may be fit for work ”. If this option is used, the doctor can then suggest adjustments to the work or workplace which would enable the employee to go back to work. Focusing on what the employee is able to do should help to facilitate the employee’s return to work. If however, the employer is unable to accommodate the adjustments proposed by the doctor, the employee will be considered not fit for work.

The introduction of fit notes should assist employers to manage long-term sickness absence by encouraging employees and employers to evaluate whether there are any aspects of the employment that the employee can undertake, notwithstanding the sickness reason. Fit notes will need to be utilised properly by both doctors and employers if they are to achieve their full potential.

To access a copy of the draft regulations which effect the change, please click here.

New right to request time off for training

Employees working for employers with 250 or more employees will have a new right to request unpaid time off to undertake study or training from 6 April 2010. This right will be extended to all employees, regardless of the size of their employer, from 6 April 2011. In order to make such a request, the employee must have completed 26 weeks’ continuous employment and the purpose of the training must be to improve their effectiveness at work and the performance of their employer’s business. Employers will be obliged to consider requests but may refuse where there is a good business reason for doing so. This can include where the employer does not believe the training will improve business performance. The maximum amount of compensation that may be awarded where an employer does not comply with the procedural requirements in respect of a request, or refuses an application on impermissible grounds, is eight weeks' capped pay.

The detail of the new right is set out in The Employee Study and Training (Eligibility, Complaints and Remedies) Regulations 2010 (available here)
The Employee Study and Training (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2010 (available here) and the draft Employee Study and Training (Qualifying Period of Employment) Regulations 2010 (available here).

New power for tribunals in relation to whistleblowing

From 6 April 2010, employment tribunals will have a new power which will enable them to send ET1 forms (or extracts from the form) which relate to whistleblowing claims directly to a prescribed regulator where the claimant has expressly given consent to this by ticking a box on their ET1 form. The regulator will be able to investigate the alleged malpractice and take appropriate action.

The power is granted by virtue of the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2010, accessible here.

Increase in additional paternity leave and pay

Six new regulations will come into force on 6 April 2010 providing for additional paternity leave and pay to parents of babies born (and adoptive parents notified of a match) on or after 3 April 2011. Relevant employees (usually fathers) will have the right to take a maximum of 26 weeks’ paternity leave if the mother (or primary adopter) were to return to work early. The leave may be taken at any time within the period which begins 20 weeks after the child is born (or placed for adoption) and ends 12 months after that date. Some of the leave would be paid if taken during the equivalent of the mother’s (or primary adopter’s) paid leave period. Employers should update their policies now to take account of the impending changes.

Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay will increase from 4 April 2010 to £124.88 a week (or 90% of normal weekly earnings if lower).

Rise in minimum pension age

The minimum age at which people can start to receive pension payments from an occupational or personal pension scheme rises from 50 to 55 on 6 April 2010. There are some exceptions to this, including where the scheme member has a protected pension age or severe health problems.

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