Do you feel you are on top of all you need to know about employment law? Wendy Trehy, employment partner at Vizards Wyeth highlights some key employment law developments that will be making the headlines in 2008.

Visit the discussion forums for an opportunity to ask follow up questions or to seek advice on a related issue.

  • The Borders and Immigration Agency (“BIA”) is increasing the frequency of surprise checks to ensure employers are not engaging illegal workers and the penalties for doing so have increased. The agricultural industry will be one of the key areas the BIA focuses upon.

Employers who use the work permit system to employ key personnel will also have to use the new points based system. This already applies to highly skilled foreign nationals in the UK who want to extend their stay and from April onwards will be rolled out until it applies to all foreign nationals by Summer 2008.

  • The long running question of whether workers absent on sick leave should continue to accrue holiday pay will hopefully be resolved this year. The Court of Appeal recently overruled the decision that workers who were off sick for more than one year should be entitled to accrue and be paid for the leave they accrued under the Working Time Regulations. The CA didn’t provide a definitive answer for employers, but instead referred a number of questions to the European Court of Justice.

The ECJ’s decision is awaited. The Advocate General (who’s opinion the ECJ tends to follow) has recommended that workers absent on sick leave should continue to accrue leave, but shouldn’t be entitled to actually take that leave or be paid for it. While we wait for the decision, the advisable course of action is to allow workers on sick leave to accrue annual leave but not take it. Employers should also remember that well drafted contracts can provide that if the contractual entitlement is more generous than the minimum entitlement under the WTR, then it is only the WTR entitlement that will accrue while off sick.

  • While on the issue of holiday pay, employers should remember that the WTR entitlement increased to 24 days per annum in October 2007, which will increase again in April 2009 to 28 days (both including bank holidays).
  • The new corporate manslaughter law comes into force on 6 April 2008. This law sets out the criminal liabilities for companies where fatalities occur as a result of failures in health and safety, which will include prison sentences for senior managers. A recent survey has found that many employers have yet to undertake a review of their health and safety procedures to ensure they are up to date.
  • The Employment Bill is scheduled to come into force by summer 2008. Key changes will be:
    1. The much welcomed repeal of the statutory dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures
    2. Greater protection and rights for workers engaged through employment agencies and
    3. Increased penalties for employers who breach the National Minimum Wage Act.

If you would like any further advice on the above issues, or any employment law query, please contact Wendy Trehy, Employment Partner at Vizards Wyeth.

Alternatively post on the discussion forums.

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This article was written by leading law firm Vizards Wyeth, Visit the forums for an opportunity to ask follow up questions or to seek advice on a related issue. The information in this article is subject to the Vizards Wyeth Terms and Conditions.