• New Compulsory Living Wage
The introduction of the National Living Wage sees a major change to minimum pay levels. This will be a significant change for the lowest-paid workers as of 1 April 2016.
From that date employers are required to pay staff aged 25 or over the National Living Wage. The National Living Wage is initially set at £7.20 per hour.
Another concurrent change relating to low pay is the doubling of the penalty for failure to pay staff the national minimum.
These changes will be hugely welcomed by those low paid workers, struggling to make ends meet, with the ever increasing cost of living. With the doubling of the penalties for failure to pay the minimum wage it is hoped that less employers will risk non-payment.
However the rate of pay is separate to the living wage, a recommended rate based on the cost of living, used by the Living Wage Foundation. This sets the UK Living Wage at £8.25 per hour.
The STUC and the Better than Zero campaign have had huge successes recently naming and shaming large employers who were refusing to pay their employees the whole sum of tips earned during their shifts.
There is now mounting pressure on business to be more transparent about their tipping systems. Customers want, and have a right, to know where their tips are going.
As a result of this, the UK Business Secretary has launched a call for evidence to look at whether action is needed. In 2009 a voluntary code of practice was issued. However, clearly the voluntary nature of this code renders it fairly meaningless in practice. In addition there remains concern about employers using tip money to make up for a failure to pay the minimum wage.
This is welcomed and organisations should be transparent with their customers about their policy on tipping. However we consider that legislation may be required to ensure that all employers comply with ordinary rules of fairness when dealing with tips.
• Zero Hours Contracts
Employees have been given the power to seek redress at the Employment Tribunal when an employer ignores a ban on exclusivity clause.
An exclusivity clause essentially means that, despite being on a zero hours contract, employees are expressly forbidden from working for other organisations, even if they do not have hours with that employer at that time.
Such clauses were outlawed in 2015. However employees did not have a form of redress if employers ignored such a ban. New regulations which apply from 11 January 2016 aimed to right this wrong. They expressly provide employees with the right to make a complaint to the Employment Tribunal where they are dismissed or have been subjected to a detriment following breach of an exclusivity clause.