News & Views

The Queen has spoken


Just when it seems that employers are getting to grips with the new employment legislation introduced earlier this year, the Queen’s Speech has highlighted the Government’s proposals for a number of new employment related measures contained with the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.

Zero Hour Contracts are under scrutiny

Zero Hour Contracts have come under a lot of scrutiny recently and were mentioned in the Queen’s Speech.

We set out below some of the highlights:

  • The Bill will contain measures to tackle National Minimum Wage abuses, although it is not clear what these measures are. There has been a suggestion that one of the ways to address the abuse may be a change to the maximum penalty for a failure to comply, such as to penalise the employer £20,000 per employee rather than the current fine of £20,000 in total.
  • Zero Hour Contracts were mentioned. These contracts have come under a lot of scrutiny recently and you may recall that Amazon have been investigated for their use of these contracts.

One of the main concerns about these contracts is that they often contain clauses that seek to prevent employees from working for any other employer. The issue was raised in the Queen’s Speech as the Government is seeking to prevent the exploitation of employees under these contracts.

  • Although no detail was given, the Bill also indicates that the Government is considering how they can reduce the delays within the Tribunal system. Delays are contrary to the idea of ‘speedy’ justice that is supposed to a feature of the Tribunal process but they also create additional costs to both the Claimants and Respondents.
  • The Bill refers to the need to make childcare regulations more flexible to meet the needs of working families.

In a similar vein, do not forget that the new Flexible Working Regulations 2014 come into force on 30 June 2014 which will extend the right to all employees who have been employed for 26 weeks to make a request for flexible working. The legislation sets out the way in which the request needs to be handled and you might want to review your existing procedures in light of this.

Sherrards will of course keep you regularly updated once we know more about the above measures. For more information please contact our Employment department or our Joint Head of the Employment Law Team Mark Fellows directly.

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