Government reforms (1): October changes

case updates - small person sitting on large briefcaseIt’s that time of year when the biannual employment legislation changes take place, and the following come into effect on 1 October 2015:

  • National Minimum Wage: The following National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates will come into effect:
    • adult rate: increase by 20p to £6.70 an hour;
    • 18-20 year olds: increase by 17p to £5.30 an hour;
    • 16-17 year olds: increase by 8p to £3.87 an hour;
    • apprentice rate: increase by 57p to £3.30 an hour; and
    • accommodation offset limit: increase by 27p to £5.35.

This is largely in line with the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission and is the largest adult rate rise since 2007 and is a substantial apprentice rate rise. It will increase the number of jobs covered by the NMW to over 1.4 million.

  • Employment Tribunal recommendations in discrimination cases: The Tribunals’ power to make wider recommendations in successful discrimination cases will be removed (e.g. that an employer retrains staff or introduces a diversity policy). Tribunals will retain the power to make recommendations that benefit an individual claimant, just not the wider workplace.
  • Health and Safety at work: the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is amended to exempt the self-employed from health and safety law if they have no employees, their work does not pose risk or harm to other people and they do not conduct a “prescribed undertaking” (i.e. high-risk or regulated sectors such as the construction industry or the forestry industry). This will exempt from health and safety law some 1.8 million self-employed workers, such as lawyers and accountants who work from home.