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The latest changes to employment law

Each October new employment law legislation is introduced, resulting in some important changes for employers. Here we outline some of the key changes coming into effect on 1 October:

National Minimum Wage increase

The National Minimum Wage increases from £6.50 to £6.70 for workers aged 21 and over from 1 October 2015. The minimum wage will also rise for younger workers (those aged 18-20, and under 18s) with the minimum hourly rate being increased to £5.30 and £3.87 respectively. Apprentices also stand to gain from a wage increase as the hourly rate of £2.73 rises to £3.30 per hour.

Smoking in cars containing children is banned

Company vehicles are already covered by existing smoke-free legislation. However, from 1 October, drivers of private cars in England and Wales will be banned from smoking cigarettes if passengers aged under 18 are present. The new legislation will affect those employees using a company car for family purposes, so employers are advised to review their company car and smoking policies.

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 becomes law, subject to Parliamentary approval

Issues such as forced or compulsory labour, servitude and human trafficking are examples of existing modern slavery. From October 2015, businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more per annum will be required to publish a modern slavery statement every year. Such employers will have to state the measures that they have taken to prevent modern slavery from existing in their business or supply chain.

New Fit for Work service to begin accepting employer referrals  

The new Fit for Work service (FFW) introduced by the Government is to be fully functional by the autumn. The service aims to aid employees in returning to work after a period of sickness or absence. Advice from occupational health can be obtained through the Fit for Work website and telephone helpline. As part of the new service, employers will be able to refer their employees for free occupational health assessments if an employee has been absent from work for a minimum of four weeks.

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