A Summary Of Recent Developments In Employment Law

Family Friendly Rights

The Government has published draft regulations which complement the changes in relation to shared parental leave by creating some new rights and extending some existing rights.

On 5 April 2015 the existing unpaid parental leave regime will be extended to cover parents of children aged between five and 18 (it currently applies to parents with a child aged 5 and under).  Parents will have a right to take up to 18 weeks (limited to a maximum of four weeks per year) parental leave.

In addition, new rights will come into force on 5 April 2015 for individuals fostering a child under the “Fostering for Adoption” scheme run by local authorities. Further, current adoption rights are extended to individuals adopting a child from outside the UK so that they will be entitled to the benefit of shared parental leave and pay.  New rights are also being created for the intended parents of children born to surrogate mothers.  The regulations provide new rights to paternity, adoption and shared parental leave and pay for couples intending to apply for a parental order under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.

Holiday Pay

A decision is still awaited from the Employment Appeal Tribunal in relation to the holiday pay cases Fulton -v- Bear Scotland Limited and Wood and Others -v- Hertel & AMEC. The central question that will be decided is whether overtime should be included in the calculation of holiday pay.  The issue of allowances will also be considered.  A decision is expected during the Autumn.

Equal Pay? Supermarket Giant Asda Faces Potentially Thousands Of Equal Pay Claims

Private sector employers may be aware of the long standing costly litigation which has been running for over 10 years regarding claims for equal pay in the public sector.  Currently Asda is preparing to defend itself against a significant amount of equal pay claims brought by female employees.  This represents an increasing concern that these types of claims could now be heading for the private sector.

“No win no fee” lawyers have alleged that employees in the Asda owned distribution centres (who are predominantly male) are being paid more than supermarket shelf stackers who are predominantly female.  The female employees claim that their work is of “equal value” to the male employees.

If successful these female employees will be entitled to up to six years back pay (plus interest) representing the difference in their salary when compared with the distribution workers in addition to an enhanced higher salary in future.

This could potentially be very expensive for Asda who have indicated that they intend to robustly defend these claims.

Whilst the litigation is very much in its early stages, the case serves as warning for the private sector that it is not exempt from these sorts of claims and employers are urged to carry out a review of their pay structures.  If any gender imbalance is suspected in your organisation you should seek specialist advice on the degree of risk of equal pay claims.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please contact a member of the Employment team.