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Employment

National Minimum Wage - update 2013

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The National Minimum Wage (NMW) has now been with us since 1999 but still employers are being prosecuted in large numbers (1,746 in 2008/09) for failing to pay the correct amounts to their employees. The government has now decided to adopt a far tougher stance and from January 1 2011 those employers found guilty will be named and shamed on the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) website. Furthermore those guilty employers will be named in regular BIS press releases and other media sources who choose to report this.


Getting it Right
The NMW is the minimum amount per hour that an employer is legally required to pay its employees. The rates are normally changed each year on 1 October. An employee is entitled to this hourly rate even if he/she has signed a contract which stats a lower rate. Since 1 October 2010 the age at which an employee is entitled to the main rate was reduced from 22 to 21. The apprentice rate was introduced on the same date.

Current NMW rates

There are different levels of NMW, depending on age and whether the employee is an apprentice. The current rates (from 1 October 2012) are:

  • £6.19 - the main rate for workers aged 21 and over
  • £4.98 - the 18-20 rate
  • £3.68 - the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18
  • £2.65 - the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

If the employee is of compulsory school age they are not entitled to the NMW. Some of their other employment rights are also different.

2013 Rates

The rates from 1 October 2013 will be:

  • £6.31 - the main rate for workers aged 21 and over
  • £5.03 - the 18-20 rate
  • £3.72 - the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18
  • £2.68 - the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship


Helpful Tips
If you employ workers below 21 make sure you diarise their birthdays and forewarn your wages department well in advance of that date. Furthermore a letter should be sent to your employee to confirm the rate change.


The new rates of NMW are usually announced well in advance of the 1 October. Therefore contact the Low Pay Commission website http://www.lowpay.gov.uk/ or the government website http://www.direct.gov.uk well in advance of this date.


If you spot any NMW errors, notify your employee immediately and reimburse them, plus interest. An apology would also be a sensible move, along with a suitable non monetary gesture (perhaps a bottle of wine or an equivalent) to improve employee relations.

This article was written by Jeremy Edwards, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce

and first published in The Falmouth Packet

National Minimum Wage - Update

E-mail Print PDF

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) has now been with us since 1999 but still employers are being prosecuted in large numbers (1,746 in 2008/09) for failing to pay the correct amounts to their employees. The government has now decided to adopt a far tougher stance and from January 1 2011 those employers found guilty will be named and shamed on the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) website. Furthermore those guilty employers will be named in regular BIS press releases and other media sources who choose to report this.


Getting it Right
The NMW is the minimum amount per hour that an employer is legally required to pay its employees. The rates are normally changed each year on 1 October. An employee is entitled to this hourly rate even if he/she has signed a contract which stats a lower rate. Since 1 October 2010 the age at which an employee is entitled to the main rate was reduced from 22 to 21. The apprentice rate was introduced on the same date.
The NMW is divided into three hourly rates dependent on the age of the employee namely:
16-17 year olds - £3.64
18-20 year olds - £4.92
21 plus  (the so called “adult” rate) £5.93
However, there is now a new “apprentice minimum wage” of £2.50 which applies to any apprentice under 19, or over 19 if they are in their first year of apprenticeship.


Helpful Tips
If you employ workers below 21 make sure you diarise their birthdays and forewarn your wages department well in advance of that date. Furthermore a letter should be sent to your employee to confirm the rate change.


The new rates of NMW are usually announced well in advance of the 1 October. Therefore contact the Low Pay Commission website http://www.lowpay.gov.uk/ or the government website http://www.direct.gov.uk well in advance of this date.


If you spot any NMW errors, notify your employee immediately and reimburse them, plus interest. An apology would also be a sensible move, along with a suitable non monetary gesture (perhaps a bottle of wine or an equivalent) to improve employee relations.

This article was written by Jeremy Edwards, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce

 and first published in The Falmouth Packet

Employment Healthcare Questionnaire

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Questioning Job Applicants about their health - the do’s and don’ts
Prior to 1 October 2010 many employers insisted all job applicants complete a health questionnaire when applying for staff vacancies, whether this information was relevant or not to the advertised vacancy. There were concerns this lead to indirect discrimination or at the very least deterred applicants with health issues applying. The new Equality Act 2010 does not prevent you from asking questions of potential employees about their state of health, it merely alters the timing when such questions can be asked and which employees can be requested to furnish such information.

 
Generally, we advise not asking a job applicant anything about their health prior to making them an offer of employment.  If such questions are asked and subsequently you refuse to proceed to offer the applicant the role, a tribunal will be automatically entitled to conclude that you have discriminated on grounds of disability, even if it was not the reason why you declined the applicant. It will then be on the employer to prove this was not the case, e.g. by proving the applicant was not qualified or as experienced as other contenders.

 
In certain instances you can ask health related questions:
• to ensure an applicant can carry out an intrinsic function to the role, e.g. they are able to undertake heavy lifting
• to able the applicant to fully participate in the recruitment process, i.e. are any reasonable adjustments necessary during the interview so that they are not placed at any disadvantage, many employers now require employees to undergo an assessment process to assess his ability for a job
• or the applicant has a disability which is an occupational requirement for the job, to establishing whether an applicant has that disability

Note the necessity of carrying out reasonable adjustments at the interview stage itself.  However, information obtained for the purpose of making adjustments to recruitment arrangements should, as far as possible be stored separately from other information about candidates. This is to ensure such information does not deter the recruiter when making the selection process.  Guidelines suggest the use on application forms that state as follows is lawful:
“Please contact us if you are disabled and need any adjustments for the interview”

    
Note it is no longer legitimate to ask questions of an applicant’s state of health unless the questions specifically relate to certain aspects of the advertised role and are necessary. Even then one should proceed with caution. We recommend beforehand looking at how important the specified characteristics are in undertaking that role and whether they could be undertaken differently with reasonable adjustments. An employer should be cautious of assuming that every item of a job description is to be regarded, especially in roles comprising of several different types of function. The guidelines suggest, only functions that can be justified as necessary to a job should be included in a job description, for instance if a warehouse vacancy requires manual lifting  and handling of heavy items the employer is permitted to ask questions of the applicants about their health  to establish his ability to undertake the role (with reasonable adjustments for a disabled applicant). However, the employer is not permitted to ask questions health questions until he offered the candidate a job. We advise limiting questioning even then to those issues related to the role.

       
For further information please refer to the Code of practice on Employment www.equalityhumanrights.com

Employment Law Questions and Answers

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contract

Do I have to give my employees a contract?

The law states that you must give all your employees within 2 months of the start of their employment a statement of particulars of employment. This is a very basic document which must set out the following points:

  • Name and address of both parties
  • The date when employment began and whether any employment with a former employer counts in terms of continuity of the employment relationship.
  • The scale or rates of pay and when it is to be paid and how i.e. Cash, cheque or bank transfer.
  • The hours of work and terms and conditions relating to holiday, pensions and sickness
  • The length of notice required to be given by both parties if they wish to terminate the working relationship.
  • A job title and brief description of the role.
  • If the role is not to be permanent the period for which the role is expected to last and if for a fixed date, the date it ends.   
  • The place of work or if more than one place an indication of the address and employers address.
  • Special provisions if the employee is required to work outside the UK.
  • Specify the disciplinary rules which apply or refer the employee to another document (e.g. employment handbook) which contains such rules.

Details of an appeal procedure if an employee is dissatisfied with any disciplinary action.

Read more...

Calculating Holiday Pay

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Calculate holiday pay online

This useful web page from DirectGov.co.uk shows you how to calculate annual entitlement to holiday pay.

How much holiday you get is normally set out in your contract of employment. The legal minimum holiday entitlement you are entitled to is 5.6 weeks, but this can mean different amounts depending on your working hours or working pattern.

Read more...

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