If there is one thing you can say about the current Coalition Government, it is that they haven’t been afraid of looking at the current state of employment law and come up with plenty of ideas about how to ring the changes.

Over the past two years these ideas have been debated, criticised and praised in various measures. Now the talking is over and many of the ambitions from the Government are starting to find their place on the statute books.

The result, as employment law specialist Ruth Renton pointed out in in the last of our recent Connected HR webinars, is that in 2013 almost every category of employment law is either up for change, been changed or being consulted on.

Space doesn’t allow me to go through all of this in detail in a short blog. But it does give the opportunity to flag up the areas of change, every employer needs to know about and act on. So, here, taken from my notes on the webinar is my list for you to have on your radar:

1)      Family friendly rights –  While this year saw the right to request flexible working extended to all workers, the right for parental leave for those with children up to the age of 18 and new rights for adopted parents and surrogate parents are all in the pipeline for 2014.

2)      Tribunal rights – new rules around taking employment disputes to tribunal came into force in July this year. The main objective is to unclog a system which had become overburdened with claims. There is now a whole new process for tribunals which includes new claim and response forms, fees for claimants, a pre-tribunal sifting of claims by employment judges.

3)      Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 –  this catch-all act of parliament was packed full employment law changes, many of which relate to the rules around dismissal and the conversations which lead up to employee leaving. There is plenty of detail to be aware of here two stand out: the new rules for settlement agreements will be impact many employers while specific rules on the issue of whistleblowing  –  something which is in consistently in the public eye – are in there too.

4)      Shares for rights –  Here the headline is the ability for employees to waive certain employment right in return for shares valued between £2,000-50,000 which are exempt from capital gains tax. There is still some discussion about how shares can be bought back when employees leave but what was seen by some as a new and controversial element in employment law is now in place.

5)      Collective redundancy and TUPE –  For redundancies, the big news is the reduction in consultation time for redundancies of 100+ people from 90 to 45 days. The Government has also looked at the rules around TUPE and is proposing a new approach for employers.

6)      Holiday and sickness pay –  The issue of what happens to the holiday allowance for those on long term sick leave has caused headaches for many employers in the last year or so. Rules about what can be carried forward and what holiday can be bought off have been clarified and are set for imminent change.

7)      A new occupational health service – A new national service which assesses employees, gives advice about return for work and supports employees with case management is under discussion. We have yet to see how this will work or when it will be launched but, again, an announcement on this is imminent.

Of course, this article isn’t designed to give you legal advice but merely to give you a broad picture of some of the changes to employment law already on the books and in the pipeline. It isn’t exhaustive and certainly doesn’t cover changes to interpretation caused by case law.

However, if you want to know more detail about the issues in this blog, then you can still listen to our Connected Webinar by clicking here: www.edenred.co.uk/Landing-Pages-2013/connected-live-hr-webinars. For any specific legal advice on HR policy or employment law, your first port of call should be a lawyer.

Andy Philpott is sales and marketing director at Edenred – got to www.edenred.co.uk for more blogs and insight or follow @Andy_Philpott 

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