Academic/Professional Papers

2nd May 2013

For JRW May Newsletter, please click here

2nd May 2013

For Stark Main & Co May newsletter, click here

4th April 2013 – VisitScotland: Scottish Borders update

Please click VisitScotland_ Scottish Borders update.pdf to view the recent update

27th March 2013 – BiGGAR Economics – “Economics of Constitutional Change” presentation

To download the presentation (in PDF format) given by Graeme Blackett, Director of BiGGAR Economics and of Reform Scotland, please click – BiGGAR Economics of Constitutional Change Presentation mar13.

24th March 2013 – Budget Report

For Chamber Member JRW, Chartered Accountants’ newsletter review of the 2013 budget, please click here JRW Budget 2013.

 

An article from Borders Chamber members Davidson and Chalmers (October 2012)

Borders – new employment legislation

As the tough economic climate continues

March 2013

For Stark Main & Co recent newsletter, click here

An article from Borders Chamber members Davidson and Chalmers
(October 2012)

Borders – new employment legislation

As the tough economic climate continues for many employers in the Scottish Borders, a raft of forthcoming changes in employment law impacting on key areas such as pension provision, pay levels and dispute resolution are about to present them with further a challenge. This series of rule changes could have a significant impact on businesses and organisations and local firms will need to be prepared in advance of them being introduced this month.

The most prominent change is the implementation of the first phase of auto-enrolment where employees with firms of 250 people will be automatically enrolled into a pension scheme, supported by mandatory contributions from their employer. There are a number of requirements for workers to qualify for auto-enrolment but there are also legal obligations for employers to ensure they are compliant.

This move is linked to the abolition of the default retirement age in UK employment law and the fact that many UK pension schemes are hugely underfunded or, in some cases, non-existent and will impact on firms and organisations across the Borders. To enable workforces to plan for the future it is important that employers’ practices and procedures are carried out with allemployees, not just older ones.  By asking about workers’ short, medium and long term goals, employers can obtain valuable information in relation to the future plans of their workforce.  This in turn will enable the employer to plan for the future of the business.

The other core legislative changes include a rise in national minimum wage for workers aged 21 and over, increasing from£6.08 to £6.19 per hour. The apprentice rate will also increase from £2.60 to £2.65 per hour. While this could result in higher costs for some firms, the decision not to increase the rate paid to those aged between 16 and 20 is clearly geared towards reducing youth unemployment which remains unacceptably high in the Scottish Borders. This may help incentivise local employers to take on school leavers although they must ensure that they carry out a robust recruitment process which avoids age and any other form of discrimination when hiring new staff.

The Government has also introduced a raft of employment-related measures designed to help bolster SMEs operating in difficult economic times, including legislation changes to reduce the potential for confrontation in resolving workplace disputes; a streamlining of employment tribunals by making it easier for judges to dismiss weak cases and the introduction of a consultation on the TUPE rules aimed at making them more efficient. These additional measures, especially the former ones which are aimed at reducing confrontation in the event of disputes and the streamlining of tribunals, should be welcome amongst most local employers as they should primarily benefit SMEs which make up the backbone of the Borders economy.

Also under consideration is a potential reduction on compensation for unfair dismissal claims which currently sits at £72,300. These measures should make it easier for employers to take proactive steps with a view to managing the staff within their business. The Government has also decided not to take forward the earlier proposal for no fault dismissals but instead it has put forward recommendations on how to improve SME guidance on discipline and grievance issues.

The forthcoming employment law changes will impact on all employers in the Scottish Borders in some manner so it is important that they are suitably prepared for the new rules. Ultimately a strong understanding of and careful compliance with employment legislation helps businesses and organisations of all sizes better manage workplace situations from improving employee performance to handling redundancies.

Dawn Dickson, partner and employment law expert

Davidson Chalmers

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