The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act was given Royal Assent this week, bringing to force several employment related provisions in a broad range of areas.
The Act aims affects small businesses in many ways which are not just related to employment, but in the Government’s words, are designed “to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business”.
Nonetheless, the Act does impose new rules on employers which will either restrict their flexibility, or increase the financial penalty for failure to follow employment legislation. For example, this piece of legislation will ban the almost all use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, and increase liability for failure to comply with the national minimum wage.
Additionally, the Act will:
- Require the Government to consult on gender pay gap reporting. Large companies (those with 250+ employees) will have to publish the difference between the average pay received by male and female employees;
- Enable the Government to require certain bodies to report on the whistleblowing disclosure they receive;
- Provide the Government with a power to make regulations to prohibit certain NHS employers from discriminating against applicants for employment who have previously made protected disclosures;
- Impose a penalty on employers who fail to pay a tribunal award;
- Allow a limit to be placed on the number of times a tribunal hearing can be postponed;
- Provide powers to force public sector employees to pay back large redundancy payments.