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Important Changes to UK Employment Law Passed in May 2016

Three major Bills affecting employment law received Royal Assent in May:

The Trade Union Act 2016

The provisions of which will be brought into force by Statutory Instrument in due course and will:

  • Increase ballot thresholds.
  • Introduce new information and timing requirements in relation to industrial action.
  • Impose legal requirements on unions for the supervision of picketing.
  • Introduce regulation-making powers to control facility time in the public sector.
  • Regulate ‘check-off in the public sector, a system by which an employer collects union subscriptions from employees by deducting them directly from their wages.

Sources: BIS: Trade Union Act becomes law (4 May 2016) and Hansard, House of Lords debates, 3 May 2016, at column 1345

The Enterprise Act 2016

Which will give effect to a number of government commitments that are intended to support the growth of enterprise in the UK, the provisions of which include:

  • Capping exit payments in the public sector.
  • Measures concerning apprenticeships such as regulating the use of the word "apprenticeship" to cover only government-accredited schemes, increasing the number of public sector apprenticeships on offer and establishing a new Institute for Apprenticeships.
  • Strengthening retail workers' rights in relation to Sunday working (although initial proposals to allow local authorities to extend Sunday trading hours were dropped during the progress of the Bill).

The Act will be brought into force in stages by secondary legislation on dates to be announced.

Source: BIS: Enterprise Act becomes law (4 May 2016).

The Immigration Act 2016

Which creates new immigration offences, and which brings the following provisions of the Immigration Act 2016 into force on 12 July 2016:

  • Sections 1 to 9, which deal with the creation of a new post of Director of Labour Market Enforcement. The Director will be tasked with overseeing and coordinating enforcement of worker exploitation legislation by the three main bodies responsible: the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (to be renamed as the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority from 12 July 2016), the Employment Standards Inspectorate and HMRC.
  • Section 34, which creates a new offence of illegal working and which will enable the earnings, of illegal workers, to be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
  • Section 35, which extends the existing criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal migrant to the situation where an employer has a reasonable cause to believe that a person is an illegal worker. Conviction on indictment for this offence will increase from two to five years.

The remaining employment provisions of the Immigration Act 2016 are not yet in force and do not have a commencement date:

  • Giving the Secretary of State of power to introduce an immigration skills charge on certain employers who sponsor skilled workers from outside of the European Economic Area, which is expected to be introduced in April 2017.
  • Requiring public authorities to ensure that public workers in customer-facing roles speak fluent English.

Source: The Immigration Act 2016 (Commencement No.1) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/603).

How EmployEasily Legal Services Can Help Employers

Failure to comply with Employment Law, even unintentionally, can leave your business vulnerable to costly Employment Tribunal Claims. Seeking Employment Law Advice from qualified employment law practitioners can help you ensure you safely manage issues in arguably one of the most complex areas for any business to get to grips with.

Employers concerned about how these new regulations might impact them can take advantage of EmployEasily Legal Services free consultation service - Contact us today to arrange your free consultation.

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