Following the publication of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill last month, the government has now issued a series of individual fact-sheets explaining the changes being introduced by the Bill.
The employment law fact-sheet, which looks at Part 11 of the Bill, makes clear that it will:
- Make exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts invalid and unenforceable so that no one can be tied into a contract without a guarantee of paid work. The government says this will enable employers and employees to benefit from the flexibility of zero hours whilst addressing the current abuse of these contracts. The government has also said it will consult shortly to assess whether more can be done to prevent bad employers from circumventing the rules through simple avoidance techniques.
- Deter non-payment of employment tribunal awards by applying a penalty to employers who fail to pay up (there are currently no consequences for non-payment) and tackle rogue employers whether the claimant chooses to enforce their award or not. An enforcement officer will be able to issue a penalty notice demanding 50 per cent of the outstanding amount (ranging from £100 to £5,000). Any amount received by the secretary of state is to be paid into the consolidated fund.
- Reduce the delays in employment tribunals and address the costs arising from short notice postponements by placing a limit on the number of successful postponement applications that can be granted to either an employee or employer in one case. In addition, tribunals will have to consider making a costs award if the application to postpone is late.
- Increase the penalties imposed on employers who underpay their workers in breach of the national minimum wage legislation on a per worker (rather than per notice) basis.
Ensure a consistent approach to recovering redundancy and exit payments for high earners leaving a public sector role and then returning to a role in the same part in a short period of time by requiring them to repay some or all of the termination payment they received.
- Reform whistleblowing procedures by requiring certain prescribed persons to report annually on the whistleblowing disclosure they receive.
Commenting on the changes, Neil Todd from Thompsons said: "The Coalition Government has finally sought to do something about the notorious problem of zero hours contracts. However the legislation falls significantly short of providing for a ban on contracts of this nature and therefore workers will continue to be exploited until further more substantive measures are put in place.”
To read the fact-sheet in full, go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/322551/bis-14-926-employment-fact-sheets.pdf
To view the full text of the legislation, go to: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2014-2015/0011/15011.pdf