June 26, 2015

Employment law update

Employment law update

Pensions and auto-enrolment – staging dates for small employers

Small employers have now started being caught out by pension auto-enrolment. Staging dates for employers with 50 employees or less began on 1 June 2015 and will continue until 1 April 2017. If your business has 50 employees or less you should ensure that you know your auto-enrolment staging date (which you can check on the Pensions Regulator website) and plan for these changes well in advance.

Auto-enrolment penalty notices

New figures from the Pensions Regulator show that the number of penalty notices issued to employers who have not complied with their auto-enrolment duties increased sharply in the first quarter of 2015. Between 1 January and 31 March 2015, 198 fixed penalty notices were issued, where employers were fined £400 for non-compliance.

Ban on enforced subject access requests

As of 10 March 2015, it is now a criminal offence under the Data Protection Act 1998 for an employer to require job applicants or existing employees to obtain a copy of their criminal records by means of a subject access request. Employers who are entitled to know details of their employees' spent convictions due to the nature of the employee’s role should use the criminal records disclosure regime, operated by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Change to Acas Code on the right to be accompanied

Can an employee’s request to be accompanied to a disciplinary or grievance meeting be refused by the employer if the employee’s choice of companion is unreasonable? In Toal v GB Oils Ltd (2013), the Employment Appeal Tribunal said that an employer must agree to an employee's request to be accompanied by any chosen companion who is either a fellow worker, trade union representative or official. The employer has no right to refuse the employee’s request. However, in this case the tribunal valued Mr Toal’s claim for breach of the right to be accompanied at only £2! The ACAS Code has now been amended to reflect the position in Toal.

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