The top five things to consider in employment law in 2015

Before 2015 picks up too much of a head of steam, make sure you’ve considered these top five things you need to think about as a small business employer this year

If you’re new to business, or are looking to take on staff, this may give you a useful insight into some of the things you’ll have to think about when employing people.

1.  Auto-Enrolment

You may have heard of this already. However, with companies under 50 employees’ staging dates beginning this coming June, you’ll want to start thinking about it too.

I would advise the sooner the better. With concerns over demand and supply not exactly matching, it could be difficult to get the assistance you need. And you don’t want to put yourself at risk of a £5,000 penalty.

2. Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Bill

If you’re employing people on Zero Hours contracts, the results of a Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) review due in March could have a further impact on this bill. If you have an exclusivity clause, you may be forced to remove it once this review is completed.

The bill itself addresses a number of other aspects of employment:

  • Whistle-blowing procedures could be changed
  • Employers who pay less than the minimum wage could face tougher penalties
  • Strong financial consequences to be added for non-payment of employment tribunal awards

If it gets passed through parliament – its second reading having happened late last year – then it is sure to have quite an impact on employers.

3. Overtime and Holiday Pay

These words are sure to send a shiver down employer’s spines. However, is it all bad? As explained recently, I don’t think there is a great deal for small businesses to be worried about. You just need to make sure that you plan how you give overtime to guarantee that you don’t fall foul of the new rules.

What you do need to do in 2015 is keep an eye on is what’s known as the Lock case. This covers how holiday pay is calculated in relation to commission, and is due to be decided early on in the year.

4. Shared Parental Leave

If your employees are due to have a baby after the April 5, 2015, then they’re entitled to share leave with their partner. The pay remains the same, mothers can just choose to return to work sooner and share the parental efforts (as long as they meet some qualifying requirements).

However, how this will work when a partner works for a company with an enhanced maternity leave scheme, or how employers can access information from other companies, is yet to be made clear. This is something that could make the whole process too complex for many to even consider.

5. Fit for Work

It’s never good to have staff off for longer than four weeks, so the government has developed this scheme to help employees get back to work faster.

Although it works on a purely voluntary basis – one of the concerns that CIPD has raised about the scheme – it is designed to give employees and employers the help they need to get past long term absence.

Roll-out is set to be completed in May 2015, so keep an eye out if you have employees on long term sick leave.

So whether you run a small business, or are looking to start taking on employees, make sure you think about these five things and take any necessary action.

Kirsty Senior is co-founder and director at citrusHR, an HR support service that offers off and online assistance specially tailored to UK small businesses.


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