On 1st October 2014, a number of changes in employment law came into force.
Firstly, in respect of antenatal appointments, fathers or partners now have the right to request time off work to accompany their pregnant partner to attend antenatal appointments. Critically this time is unpaid. Antenatal appointments are not defined but have a wide meaning. In addition to scans and routine check-ups this could include parenting courses and more holistic therapies such as relaxation techniques. Again, it remains to be seen how widely this right will be exercised. I am sure that there are some who may use the right to attend key appointments like scans but that a wide spread uptake of the more obscure appointments is unlikely as it is unpaid.
Also from yesterday, the statutory qualifying period for unfair dismissal has been removed for employees whose dismissal is connected with their membership of the Reserve Forces. Reserve Forces includes Royal Auxiliary Air Force, Royal Marine Reserves, Royal Naval Reserves, Territorial Army. This is where the employment terminates after 1st October 2014 and presumably relates to a policy decision whereby going forward more reserves may be called upon. In line with this, the Government has also introduced a new payment scheme for small or medium sized employers where the employee is called on for service which will become effective on this date.
Another change is that Employment Tribunals’ now have the power (for claims presented on or after 1st October 2014) to order equal pay audits where an employer, has been found to have discriminated on the grounds of gender in respect of pay (equal pay claims).
Written by Robin Aston
2nd October 2014