An update from our legal expert on Employment, Safeguarding and Volunteering.
Unpaid parental leave has been extended from 13 weeks to 18 weeks.
Changes on Whistleblowing: an employer is vicariously liable if a whistleblowing worker is victimised by a co-worker; disclosure no longer needs to be made in good faith.
From 1st October 2013, the minimum wage goes up from £6.19 to £6.31.
Changes to rules on tribunal and unfair dismissal:
- There is now no qualifying period to claim unfair dismissal when the only or main reason for the dismissal is the employee’s political opinions or affiliation.
- The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will cease to be fixed at £74,200. (It will be 74,200 or 52 weeks x the employee’s normal pay – whichever is lower).
- There are new employment tribunal rules of procedure, including a new rule allowing hearings to be conducted by telephone or email.
- And there is likely to be the introduction of fees for employment tribunal and employment appeal tribunal claims (unless Unison is successful in its application for judicial review).
- Compromise agreements are expected to be renamed as settlement agreements, with provision for confidential negotiations before termination of employment.
- From April 2014, nearly all employment claims will have to go to Acas for conciliation before they can go to the tribunal.
From 17th June, a new “portable” criminal record certificate starts, that can be taken from role to role. Certificates will now only be provided to the applicant, and not also to the organisation or umbrella body. More on DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks here.
The Office for Civil Society is to publish guidance on the regulation of volunteer-based events, following a review by the Dept for Business, Innovation & Skills (although no date has been set for publication yet).
Criteria for licensing of events are to be relaxed (but no date set yet):
- audience size for live music events that don’t need an entertainment licence to be increased from 200 to 500;
- performances of plays and dance will no longer need to be licensed if audience is under 500;
- most indoor sporting events will no longer need to be licensed if audience is less than 1000;
- all community venues (community centres, village halls, schools, nurseries, hospitals) should become exempt from nearly all entertainment licensing.
(For the time being, a premises licence, temporary event notice or club premises licence is still required. Events may still need other licences, in particular PRS/PPL for copyright or recorded works.)
HMRC is clamping down on payments to casuals and volunteers that are not out-of-pocket expenses and should be treated for tax under PAYE.
The Supreme Court has ruled that volunteering is not an occupation and volunteers are not covered by discrimination legislation.
There is also some guidance for how volunteering will fit with the “work search” requirement for some universal credit claimants.