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Employment Law Changes from 1 October 2014

Several key employment law changes come into effect on 1 October 2014:

National minimum wage. The national minimum wage rates for all workers will increase under the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2485) which were made on 14 September 2014. New rates are as follows:

Year 21 and over 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentice*
2014 (current) £6.50 £5.13 £3.79 £2.73
2013 £6.31 £5.03 £3.68 £2.68
2012 £6.19 £4.98 £3.68 £2.65

*The apprentice rate is for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 over who are in their first year.  All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age.

Power to order equal pay audits. Under the Equality Act 2010 (Equal Pay Audits) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2559), which were made on 22 September 2014, tribunals will have the power to order employers found to have been in breach of equal pay law to carry out equal pay audits in certain circumstances.

Reserve Forces reform. The Defence Reform Act 2014 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2014 (SI 2014/2370) will bring section 48 of the Defence Reform Act 2014 into force, which removes the statutory qualifying period for unfair dismissal where the dismissal is connected with the employee's membership of the Reserve Forces. The order also brings into force section 46 and Schedule 7 of the Defence Reform Act 2014, which amend the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to make provision for payments to small and medium-sized employers of reservists who are called out for service. The Reserve Forces (Payments to Employers and Partners) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2410) set out how these payments will be calculated.

Time off to accompany partner to antenatal appointments. Employees and agency workers will have a right to take unpaid time off to accompany a pregnant woman with whom they have a "qualifying relationship" to up to two antenatal appointments, up to a maximum of six and a half hours for each appointment.

Whistleblowing: new list of prescribed persons. The Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2014 (2014/2418) (2014 Order), which contains a new list of prescribed persons in England, Scotland and Wales to whom a whistleblower may, in certain circumstances make a disclosure, comes into force on 1 October 2014. The 2014 Order replaces the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 1999 (SI 1999/1549) with respect to disclosures made on or after 1 October 2014. 

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