Top 10 employment issues for 2014

When you run a business, you can sometimes feel that all your time is spent doing administrative tasks and the time you have left to actually do your job is stripped away to the bone.

It may well be that you burn the midnight oil doing bookkeeping or accounts or it could be that you use the wee small hours of the morning to stay up to date with HR issues or new legislation that affects your business. Either way, it’s essential that you keep a close eye on things that either affects how you organise your in-house functions or things that could impact on your results.

It’s for this reason we’ve put together our Top 10 list of HR issues that we feel will have a real impact in 2014. Here they are:

  1. Staging dates for Pensions Automatic Enrolment. Pensions Automatic Enrolment is going to affect a huge number of SMEs this year, with employers with 50 to 249 employees coming into the firing line since April 2014. Whether or not you’re aware of your obligations will depend on how closely you’ve kept your finger on the pulse. Either way, now’s the time to face up to reality and get your Pensions Automatic Enrolment plans firmly in place.
  2. Statutory Sick Pay claim back changes. If your Sick Pay made up 13% or more of your monthly National Insurance Contributions, then up until recently, you’d have been able to claim that money back. This is no longer the case and could impact on your bottom line. This change was kept pretty quiet by the government and could have a detrimental effect on businesses that have an issue with absence due to ill health.
  3. National Minimum Wage increase. If you pay all or certain employees the NMW, then they’ll be over the moon to hear that this year they’ll get a pay rise well in excess of the rate of inflation. From your point of view however, this could mean that you need to look more closely at your cashflow.
  4. Flexible working spreads across the workforce. Depending on the make up of your workforce, you may or may not have employees working on flexible hours contracts. If you do, you need to be aware that from 30 June this year, every employee will have the right to request flexible working hours.
  5. Dad’s to get more rights. In line with support for working families, qualifying Dads will soon have the right to request unpaid time off to attend ante-natal appointments with their spouses. What this means is that they could attend up to two appointments, taking up to six and a half hours off for each on an unpaid basis.
  6. Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and SSP changes. If you have workers who are currently in receipt of or soon to be in receipt of maternity, paternity, adoption or sick pay, then they too will have seen a rate rise from 6 April this year.
  7. Tribunals come snooping and demand pay audits. Any tribunal that suspects you may be in breach of certain equal pay provisions can, from later this year will be within their rights to request an equal pay audit.
  8. Early conciliation introduced by Acas. Where employees suggest that they intend taking an employer to a tribunal, Acas will request that they first lodge an outline of their proposed claim, which will be followed up with the offer of conciliation.
  9. Time to be doubly aware of discrimination. Up until recently, where an employer has been accused of discrimination the statutory procedure was that the employer was required to complete a discrimination questionnaire. From the start of this tax year, this will be replaced by a six-step process involving the employee or job applicant.
  10. Rights, quite rightly for all. Employment rights are in place to protect the employer and the employee, but from April onwards, employers found to be breaching (two or more aggravating) employment rights could face financial penalty.