Third Party Harassment
Since the introduction of the Equality Act in 2010, if an employer knew an employee had been harassed by a client, customer or any other third party, it could be held vicariously liable for the harassment under section 40 of the Act.
From today, section 40 has been repealed in relation to third party harassment claims. However, employees may still be able to pursue a claim under the Equality Act if the employee can show that the employer's failure to take action and protect them from such harassment is because of their protected characteristic, for example their race or sexual orientation.
Changes relating to the disclosure and approval of remuneration for directors of quoted companies come into force today. Since 2002, quoted companies have been obliged to prepare a directors' remuneration report for each financial year. Quoted companies will now be required to produce a directors' remuneration report which complies with the following:
- Annual report on remuneration. An annual report on the directors' remuneration setting out actual payments to directors and linking the chief executive's pay to company performance over the last five to ten years.
- Annual statement. The report must contain an annual statement summarising the major decisions taken on directors' remuneration for the relevant financial year.
- Directors' remuneration policy. A future remuneration policy at least every three years. The policy must be approved by binding shareholder approval. Once the policy is approved, the company is only able to make payments within the limits provided.
National minimum wage
The national minimum wage increases today. The standard adult rate (for workers aged 21 or over) increases from £6.19 an hour to £6.31. For workers between 18 and 20, the rate increases from £4.98 an hour to £5.03 and for workers under 18, the hourly rate sees an increase from £3.68 to £3.72. The national minimum wage will now also apply to agricultural workers.
Health and Safety
A number of health and safety legislation changes also come into force today. Before today, employees were entitled to bring civil claims for damages against employers who were in breach of certain health and safety regulations, even if the employer had taken reasonable steps to protect their employees. With today's changes, this position has been reversed - no civil claim can be brought for breach of a health and safety statutory duty unless the regulation expressly provides for it. This means, in most cases, employees will now have to prove that the employer was negligent and that the injury and loss were caused by that negligence.
The reporting requirements under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) have also been simplified. The main changes are:
- The classification of ‘major injuries’ to workers is being replaced with a shorter list of ‘specified injuries’
- The existing schedule detailing 47 types of industrial disease is being replaced with eight categories of reportable work-related illness
- Fewer types of ‘dangerous occurrence’ will require reporting
There are no significant changes to the reporting requirements for fatal accidents, accidents to non-workers (members of the public) and accidents which result in the incapacitation of a worker for more than seven days. Recording requirements will remain broadly unchanged, including the requirement to record accidents resulting in the incapacitation of a worker for more than three days.