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Employment law update

08 Jan 2015

The last bombshell of 2014…

In late December, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided that discrimination on the ground of obesity is not itself unlawful but the effects of obesity may provide protection from discrimination.

This could be so if ‘obesity’ hinders full and effective participation in working life on a ‘long-term’ basis. The ECJ did not suggest its decision only applied to severe obesity. The NHS says “obesity is a term used to describe somebody who is very overweight, with a lot of body fat”.

Employers should seek advice when dealing with obese employees who have health problems as they may have a duty to make ‘reasonable’ adjustments.

What can we expect in 2015?

Nothing too exciting although the general election in May could change this…

  • February 2015: the courts are due to decide whether a worker, whose pay comprises basic pay and sales-related commission, should receive holiday pay which includes their average commission. This is hot on the heels of the recent decision which held holiday pay should include average compulsory overtime.
  • 5 April 2015: the new system of shared parental leave will become available. Mothers, fathers and adopters will be able to share leave within the first year of the birth or adoption of their child.
  • 5 April 2015: adopters will no longer need 26 weeks’ service before being entitled to adoption leave. Joint adopters also will have the right to attend adoption appointments together.
  • 5 April 2015: the existing parental leave regime will be extended so employees can now take unpaid leave until their child’s 18th birthday.
  • Autumn 2015: the new tax-free childcare scheme is set to be introduced. Working families may be able to claim 20% of childcare costs for children under the age of 5 and for children with disabilities under the age of 17.
  • Autumn 2015: it is expected caste discrimination will be made illegal.
  • The government has committed to a policy of “deregulation” and is at present reviewing the rules relating to zero hours contracts and agency workers. Watch this space!

If you have any concerns or would like to discuss anything employment-related, please contact a member of our team.