Nursery Management: Employment Law - Get ready for change

Check what has been going on in the world of employment law and look ahead to what is set to happen in 2013 with this guide by Jacqui Mann.

EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNALS

Bringing a claim or an appeal to an employment tribunal is currently free of charge, with the full cost being met by the taxpayer. From the summer of 2013 fees will be introduced. Employees using tribunals will start to contribute to the cost of running the system.

The rationale for introducing fees and transferring some of the cost to those who use the service is to encourage early resolution and to look for alternatives, such as mediation, so that tribunals remain a last resort for the most complex cases.

There will be two fee levels:

  • Level one claims - a fee of £160 on issue of a claim and a further £230 at the hearing stage
  • Level two claims - a fee of £250 and a further £950 at the hearing stage. These claims will involve more complex issues, including unfair dismissal and discrimination.

There will also be a fee structure for multiple claims, and at the Employment Appeal Tribunal there will be an appeal fee of £400 and a hearing fee of £1,600.

People on low incomes will be exempt and employment tribunals will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fee to the successful party.

CHANGES TO THE VETTING AND BARRING SYSTEM

With effect from 10 September 2012:

  • A revised definition of 'regulated activity'
  • Removal of the definition of 'controlled activity'
  • Removal of the requirement to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority and to be monitored
  • Repeal of 'additional information'
  • Introduction of a minimum age of 16 years for a CRB check
  • More rigorous 'relevancy test' introduced.

With effect from December 2012 the CRB and ISA will merge to form the Disclosure and Barring Service.

REGULATED ACTIVITY RELATING TO CHILDREN

The new definition of regulated activity relating to children comprises only:

1. Unsupervised activities - teaching, training, caring for, or supervising children; driving a vehicle solely for children; providing advice/guidance on well-being.

2. Work for a limited range of establishments where there is opportunity for contact. This does not include supervised contact by volunteers.

3. Relevant personal care, for example washing, dressing, healthcare supervised by a professional.

4. Registered childminding and foster caring.

Work in categories 1 and 2 is only considered a regulated activity if it is done regularly.

Employers should review recruitment procedures to check that they comply. Areas for them to consider include:

  • recruitment advertising
  • job specifications
  • terms and conditions of employment
  • employment application forms
  • carrying out the necessary checks
  • data retention.

EXPECTED EARLY IN 2013

An 'Update Service' is to be introduced. Individuals will be able to pay a fee and subscribe to the update service. They will apply for a criminal records check once and then, if they need a similar check again, they will be able to use their existing certificate and nursery owners will be able to carry out an online check to ensure that it is up to date. This will mean that employees will not need to make an application for a new check each time they start work at a nursery.

MINIMUM WAGE

1 October 2012 will see an increase in the national minimum wage:

  • the adult rate will increase to £6.19 an hour
  • 18 to 20-year-olds will remain at £4.98 an hour
  • 16 to 17-year-olds will remain at £3.68 an hour
  • the rate for apprentices will increase to £2.65 an hour.

PENSIONS AUTO-ENROLMENT

Larger employers will be required from October to automatically enrol all eligible employees who are not already part of a workplace pension scheme into a qualifying workplace pension or the National Employment Savings Trust pension scheme. They are also required to make minimum contributions.

Compliance will be phased in later for medium and small employers. Smaller early years settings will not need to worry about auto-enrolment until 2015 or 2016, but I recommend that you get ready for this as you will eventually have to comply.

Jacqui Mann is managing director of HR4Nurseries (www.HR4nurseries.co.uk).

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