Employment law seminar
EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE – BREAKFAST SEMINAR ON 5 JUNE 2007 DYLAN THOMAS CENTRE 8am to 10.15am Nick Huffer CLARKSLEGAL LLP
So, what has been happening in the last 12 months? The whole issue of equal pay is gripping the public sector at the moment with thousands of claims being filed. Neath Port Talbot Council has led the way in Wales in reaching settlements already worth over £6 million. Other authorities across the UK have a long way to go. It is estimated that less than half of all local authorities in the UK have implemented the “Single Status Agreement”, the historic national deal with public sector unions designed to end historic pay differences between men and women. This is in breach of the 31 March 2007 deadline and with local authorities estimating total back pay running into billions, there is much nervousness on the issue. Private sector employers are keeping a close eye on the situation as well. · We will be looking at what the future may bring, including the impact of the new Gender Equality Duty, which came into force on 6 April 2007 under the Equality Act 2006. This will place a positive legal duty on public bodies to eliminate unlawful discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. · Plus in December 2006, a new Disability Equality Duty came into force for public bodies placing a positive obligation to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people. · The Equality Act also establishes a single Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) – with effect from October 2007. This will bring together existing equality bodies for sex, race and disability and cover new areas of discrimination law including sexual orientation, religion and belief, and age. The new Commission will hope to promote equality and human rights through its provisions and practices already in place. An increase in the awareness of ‘religion’ and ‘belief’ will also be incorporated through many provisions. · Related to this, are the issues of sex discrimination and harassment, where proposals are being considered to widen the meaning of harassment following a successful case brought by the Equal Opportunities Commission. Harassment to be considered unlawful should in accordance with the European Directive be widened to ‘relate to sex’ compared to the previous discrimination, based on ‘grounds of sex’. · One of the most far-reaching changes in the last 12 months, is age discrimination. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 came into force on 1 October 2006. We will be reminding employers of their new obligations and potential pitfalls. · Looking forward, arguably the biggest surprise, and welcome news for employers and arguably employees alike was the news this year that the Government was launching a consultation with a view to abolishing the statutory dispute resolution procedures. All very embarrassing since they were only introduced in October 2004 and were hailed as a major reform to improve workplace dispute resolution and the operation of the law on unfair dismissal, which is at the heart of UK employment law. We have all been struggling with the unnecessary complexity ever since this abortive attempt to simplify the law. So, after all that HR training, back to square one! · Where does that leaves us all now? We will be looking at the consultation and what may come out of it. · It has been all change on the family friendly front with the changes that have come in under the Work and Families Act 2006. For women due to have their baby on or after 1 April 2007, the statutory maternity pay period is extended from 26 to 39 weeks plus there is the extension of the right to 12 months maternity leave to all working mothers regardless of length of service. Another key development is the right for carers of adults to request flexible working arrangements from 6 April 2007. · The outcome of the consultation on increasing statutory holiday leave up to a maxium of 28 days, which will take into account statutory bank holidays, is due this month. · Finally, a mention for data protection, which is getting a revamp in the area of criminal checks on people working with children and vulnerable adults.
Notes to editors:
The Oatmeal Group is a UK company specializing in providing communication excellence to the executive workplace. The Oatmeal Group is served through four business divisions, consultancy, training, marketing and adventures.
More information on The Oatmeal Group can be found on the company website at www.oatmealgroup.com
Further enquiries to:
John Davies (Marketing) – 0843 289 1249
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