Employment Law Reforms: Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014
Following the announcement in the Queen’s speech, the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014 has been introduced into Parliament which makes a number of piecemeal changes to employment law.
The Bill includes provisions which:
- Ban exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts;
- Deter breaches of National Minimum Wage laws by amending the power to set the maximum penalty for underpayment so that it can be set on a per worker basis. This means that employers face a fine of up to £20,000 in respect of each underpaid worker;
- Aim to reduce delays in employment tribunals caused by frequent and short notice postponements. The Bill allows for a limit to be placed on the number of successful applications for postponement of an employment tribunal a claimant or respondent can be granted. Judges will be able to grant further postponements in exceptional circumstances. In addition, judges will be required to consider making costs orders where successful applications for postponement are made;
- Apply a penalty to employers who fail to pay a tribunal award, amounting to 50% of the amount outstanding, subject to a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000 and which is reduced by 50% if paid within 14 days;
- Ensure more systematic processes across prescribed bodies in the way whistleblowing disclosures are handled, ensuring that disclosures are considered. In addition, certain prescribed persons will be required to report annually on the whistleblowing disclosures they receive. The aim of these measures is to reassure whistle-blowers that action is being taken by prescribed bodies as a result of their disclosures;
- Allow the Treasury to require repayment of termination payments made to public sector workers. This is intended to allow recovery where the worker is re-employed in the public sector within a certain period of time. The detail will be included in regulations published later.
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