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Top 10 employment law changes in 2010 - part 2

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6. Fit notes replace sick notes

Under the Social Security and Statutory Sick Pay Amendment Regulations, 'sick notes' will become 'fit' notes in April.  Doctors will be allowed to issue printed notes rather than handwritten ones.  The Regulations also allow doctors to state whether an individual is fit to carry out their job, able to carry out some work or no work at all.  Moreover, the law permits doctors to state whether a sick employee could return to work on adjusted terms such as altered hours, amended duties and workplace adaptations.

7. Union rights

The Government plans to outlaw 'blacklisting' of workers for their union membership or activities this year.  Draft regulations have been published that:

  • make it unlawful for organisations to refuse employment or sack individuals as a result of appearing on a blacklist;
  • make it unlawful for employment agencies to refuse to provide a service on the basis of appearing on a blacklist; &
  • enable individuals or unions to pursue compensation or solicit action against those who compile, distribute or use blacklists.

Provided Parliament gives its approval, the regulations could be brought into effect this Spring.

8. Unfair dismissal 

Where a dismissal occurs on or after 1 February 2010, the overall compensatory award limit will fall from £66,200 to £65,300 and the daily compensatory award limit will fall from £21.50 to £21.20, reflecting a -1.4% change in the Retail Prices Index.

9. Independent Safeguarding Authority

Starting November 2010, new workers and those moving jobs who want to work with children or vulnerable adults must register with the .

10. Time to train initiative

Under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act's time to train initiative employees will have the legal right to request time off for training.  The right to request time off will become law on 6 April for employers with 250 or more employees and will be extended to cover all employers from April 2011.

The right is similar to the right to request flexible working in that employers do not have to pay for training and can refuse an employee's request so long as they can show that it would be detrimental to the business if that member of staff takes time off unpaid.

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