Despite the gloomy time of year, there are at least three reasons to be cheerful today: 'Blue Monday' (20 January) is out of the way, January is very nearly over, and Bevan Brittan's first News Round-Up of 2014 is here. And, as if is not enough, this is a special 'New Year New TUPE' edition, in which Sarah Lamont looks at what the 2014 TUPE regulations will mean for you, alongside other recent developments in the world of employment law.
Despite the gloomy time of year, there are at least three reasons to be cheerful today: 'Blue Monday' (20 January) is out of the way, January is very nearly over, and Bevan Brittan's first News Round-Up of 2014 is here. And, as if that is not enough, this is a special 'New Year New TUPE' edition, in which Sarah Lamont looks at what the 2014 TUPE regulations will mean for you, alongside other recent developments in the world of employment law.
After what seems to many like a long wait, the regulations which set out how 'new' TUPE transfers will operate have finally been published: the Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)(Amendment) Regulations 2014 ('the Regulations'). The Regulations supplement, but do not replace, the 2006 TUPE Regulations and, in respect of collective consultation, they also effect changes to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A).
BIS has also updated its TUPE guidance to take account of the Regulations – please click here for a copy.
What are the key aspects of the new legislation?
Apart from the provisions relating to the employee liability information (which come into force on 1 May 2014) and 'micro businesses' (which come into force on 1 July 2014), the Regulations are in force on 31 January 2014.
Last Wednesday, the Court of Appeal heard an appeal against the Employment Appeal Tribunal's decision in USDAW v Ethel Austin and another - commonly known as the 'Woolworths' case - on the meaning of 'establishment' for the purposes of collective consultation. The case has now been adjourned, while the Court of Appeal refers it to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Please click here for more information about the Employment Appeal Tribunal case and its practical implications.
Usually, 1 February sees an annual increase in the statutory rates for calculating redundancy pay, guarantee payments and tribunal awards. From this year onwards there will be no February increase but the rates will change on 6 April each year, in keeping with other statutory rate increases such as Statutory Sick Pay and Statutory Maternity Pay. New rates will be announced shortly.
Ahead of the repeal of the discrimination questionnaire procedure, which is currently timetabled for April 2014, Acas has published new guidance on asking and responding to questions of discrimination in the workplace. The new guidance can be downloaded here. The guidance is non-statutory, so there are no penalties for any failure to follow it, but it is likely to be adopted by claimants in lieu of the formal questionnaire procedure.
Following on from the publication of their provisional tribunal statistics published last year, the Ministry of Justice has now confirmed its official statistics for the quarter July to September 2013. These statistics are of particular interest as they represent the first set of official statistics since the introduction of employment tribunal fees on 29 July 2013. In summary, claims are down 17% on the same period in 2012, and unfair dismissal and failure to inform or consult on redundancy claims have fallen by around 40%. We understand that, since the end of last year, claims have been increasing, following a sharp dip after the introduction of fees, but the Employment Tribunal Service expects claims to stabilise this Summer. However, official figures on these points are not yet available.
In what may be a refreshingly logically – but also perhaps surprising – decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), it has been held that the Agency Workers Regulations do not apply to agency workers on long-term assignments. In the case of Moran and others v Ideal Cleaning Services Ltd a group of agency staff were assigned indefinitely to one hirer and worked for that hirer for periods ranging between six and twenty five years. The EAT found that an employment tribunal was correct to say that the Agency Worker Regulations did not apply to these employees. The regulations define "agency worker" as "an individual who is supplied by a temporary [our emphasis] work agency to work temporarily for and under the supervision and direction of a hirer". "Temporary", the EAT said, in this context means not permanent. And for employment purposes, a permanent contract is generally regarded as one which is open-ended in duration, terminable on proper notice being given. The arrangements under which the agency staff worked were indefinite; therefore they were excluded from the scope of the regulations. This means that they would not be entitled to the benefits which must be provided to workers under the regulations, such as access to a hirer's collective facilities, information about the hirer's job vacancies and (after their first 12 weeks' engagement) entitlement to the same "basic working and employment conditions" as direct recruits.
Heavy snow is forecast around the country over the weekend with up to 30 cm expected on higher ground. While this may bring...