Welcome to this edition of PeopleTalk. Spring is now well and truly here, the new tax year has started and employees are starting to look forward to their summer holidays. Next thing we will know, Christmas will be around the corner! In this edition we look at the new statutory rates applicable this year, the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace and the steps you need to take to ensure your compliance with the immigration regulations when employing non EU nationals.
Are you paying them right?
There are statutory rates which apply to several aspects of employment from sickness to maternity and from National Minimum Wage (NMW) to Redundancy. In the past some rates have increased in February, some in April and the NMW in October. This year most rates changed in April and only the NMW changes in October.
From 1st April 2014, Maternity, Paternity and Adoption pay increased to £138.18 per week (or 90% of pay if less than the statutory amount). Statutory sick pay increased to £87.55 per week and the amount used when calculating a maximum week’s pay for the purposes of statutory redundancy pay will be £464 per week, an increase of £14 per week.
The NMW adult rate will increase to £6.50 per hour, giving a full time employee working 40 hours an annual salary of £13,520. Employers paying below this level need to start planning for the increase now. To see a full breakdown of rates, take a look at our free downloads page.
We have often been asked how best practice, case law and legislation differ and e-cigarettes may be one such area which moves through these stages, eventually being subject to employment legislation.
Since 2007, people have not been permitted to smoke in an enclosed public space and therefore smoking in the workplace, including in Company vehicles, was banned. However, e-cigarettes were not around then and therefore the definitions do not appear to extend to the use of e-cigarettes.
Employers need to decide if they will allow employees to ‘smoke’ at their desk or to provide somewhere (not the smoking area) for them to take ‘e-cigarette breaks’.
To date there is no relevant case law, but this looks set to change as a dispute between a driver of a waste-disposal vehicle and his employer looks set to go to the employment tribunal.
The driver was summarily dismissed for, allegedly, smoking while operating a company vehicle. He is defence is that he was using an e-cigarette and therefore not ‘smoking’ and that he was not aware the smoking rules extended to e-cigarettes. He was disciplined and the employer found against him at both the disciplinary and appeal.
The driver appears to be fighting his case and will take his employers to an employment tribunal and his legal fees are reportedly being met by his e-cigarette manufacturer.
Case law is sure to follow and potentially employment legislation after that. At this stage, employers need to take a decision about their policy towards e-cigarettes, document it, communicate it and follow their procedures to ensure they meet the needs of the employees without exposing the business to the risk of a claim.
To get an e-cigarette policy written for your business, call us now on 01923 504100 or email us at [email protected]
Top Tips for protecting your business when hiring non EU workers.
The Immigration Bill was announced on 10th October last year and has caused much debate since. Ultimately the Government is aiming to reduce immigration, employers need to be aware of the affect the key proposals will have on their business and how it will change their responsibilities when employing foreign nationals.
1. Right-to-work checks
As part of the recruitment process, right-to-work checks must be carried out to ensure that only those who are legally entitled to work in the UK are employed. The checks will be simpler and reduce the number of acceptable documents.
2. Higher civil penalties
Currently, if employers are found to be employing an illegal migrant without undertaking the necessary checks, they may be subject to a civil penalty of up to £10,000 per worker. The new law increases the maximum penalty to up to £20,000 per illegal worker, with a starting point of £15,000 for a first-time offence.
3. Director and Partner liability
The Government has supported the proposal that directors and partners of limited-liability businesses should be held jointly liable for penalties, and action will be taken against businesses that fail to pay the civil penalties imposed for employing illegal workers.
4. Warning letters abolished
At present, a warning letter is issued to businesses for a first-time breach of the right to work, under the new law this will no longer happen. The Government believes that businesses should be aware of their responsibilities and take appropriate action up-front.
5. Annual checks removed
At present employers must carry out an annual check where migrant workers have time-limited visas. This check is being removed and employers will simply be required to undertake a follow-up check at the expiry of the migrant worker’s permission to stay in the UK.
6. Reliance on the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
The BRP replaces the visa stamp in a migrant’s passport. The Immigration Bill will place a greater reliance on the BRP and should make it easier for employers to undertake right-to-work checks, which will reduce business costs.
7. TUPE transfer changes
The new law will extend the period from 28 days to 60 days from the date of transfer, in which the new employer has to complete right-to-work checks. In TUPE transfers, the transferee employer must be licensed by the UK Border Agency to sponsor migrant workers in the UK.
8. Students’ right to work
Foreign students can work part time during their study term and full time during their holidays, this can be problematic for an employer. The Bill will require that migrant students provide evidence of their term dates as part of the right-to-work checks to prevent students breaching their visa conditions.
9. NHS charges
Although the Government has not yet agreed the amount of any fee, foreign nationals coming to the UK on a temporary basis for more than six months will be charged a non-refundable fee that may be paid as part of the visa application fee. Employers should take into account any potential additional costs this will entail when considering recruiting a migrant worker.
10. Restrictions on appeal
The Immigration Bill will remove the right of appeal for the majority of immigration applications, reducing 17 rights of appeal to only 4. This may result in some migrants not being able to appeal against unfair immigration decisions. Employers should be aware of the risk of continuing to employ a worker who no longer has a legal right to stay in the UK in circumstances where an employee cannot provide right-to-work documents because of a pending appeal. Employers should consult employment law advisers for guidance on the course of action to take to guard against potential penalties in such circumstances.
Employing workers from overseas has always opened up the proverbial ‘can of worms’, but by adhering to the law and following procedures correctly, it can prove to be fruitful and rewarding for both the employer and the new employee.
DOHR can help you to follow all the correct procedures to guarantee you have the correct internal processes and records to ensure immigration law compliance and to protect your company from a range of risks. These risks include civil penalties, the revocation of a sponsor licence to employ migrant workers or, in severe circumstances even closure of your business. Call us today on 01923 504100 to ensure that your practices are compliant or email us on [email protected]
Interns / work experience
We are often approached by both schools and individuals looking for work experience. This is an essential tool for enabling youngsters to make informed career decisions and to gain invaluable experience in the workplace. So many of our clients complain about the lack of practical hands on experience school leavers and graduates and find it hard to recruit people with suitable skills.
We would love to hear from companies who are able to offer a week or a month of meaningful work experience. We can then contact our schools and individuals and help to make a suitable match.