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Autumn employment law changes to look out for

With many people returning to work from holiday we thought it would be helpful to set out a broad summary of employment law changes that you need to prepare for this coming Autumn.

Modern slavery and human trafficking statement

From October 2015, employers with an annual turnover of £36 million or more will be legally obliged to publish what is being called an annual modern slavery statement. The statement must state the steps taken by the organisation to prevent modern slavery existing in any part of their business or supply chain. Those organisations caught by the legislation should be taking active steps now to prepare for this reporting requirement.

The legislation sets out a framework for what may be included in a statement and covers five key areas:

1. A brief description of an organisation’s business model and supply chain relationships;
2. Policies relating to modern slavery, including the due diligence and auditing processes that have been implemented;
3. The training that is available and provided to those in supply chain management and the rest of the organisation;
4. The principle risks related to slavery and human trafficking, including how risks are evaluated and managed in the organisation and its supply chains;
5. Key performance indicators which will allow third parties to assess the effectiveness of the activities described in the statement.

Although the obligation to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement on an organisation’s website will start from October 2015, subject to Parliamentary clearance, there will be transitional provisions so that statements will not be required where a business’s financial year end is close to the date that the duty comes into force.

National Minimum Wage changes

The National Minimum Wage hourly rate will increase from 1 October 2015. For adults this means a rise of 20p from £6.50 to £6.70 per hour.

Referrals under the new fit for work service

The new fit for work service should be fully operational by Autumn. The aim of the service is to get employees back to work quicker. Occupational health advice can be obtained through the website and telephone helpline. If you have an employee who is absent from work for at least four weeks you will soon be able to refer an employee for a free occupational health assessment.

Sikh Safety helmet exemption extended to all workplaces

For those workplaces where a safety helmet is required, for example in the construction industry, the exemption of turban wearing Sikhs from a safety helmet is now to be extended to all workplaces from 1 October 2015. This will therefore affect Sikhs who will be able to wear a turban and not a safety helmet in workplaces including warehouses, factories and vehicles involved in transportation.

Ban on smoking in cars with children

Currently under the Smoke Free Legislation, vehicles that are owned by companies must be smoke free unless the vehicle is mainly used for an employee’s private purposes. From 1 October 2015 drivers of private cars in England will now be banned from smoking in the car if they are carrying children under 18 as passengers. The driver faces fixed penalty fines of £50 for the offence. Employers may wish to update their car policies.