The government has published the Employment Bill 2001, which has formed the subject of much rumour and speculation in recent weeks.
It covers working parents, dispute resolution, and improving the skills of employees.
The main provisions are:
• six months' paid, and a further six months' unpaid, maternity leave for working mothers;
• six months' paid, and a further six months' unpaid, leave for adoptive parents;
• two weeks' paid paternity leave for working father;
• an increase in SMP from £62pw to £100pw;
• reimbursement of maternity, paternity and adoptive payments by employers from the government, with small employers receiving 100% reimbursement plus a bonus payment on top;
• the establishment of union learning representatives (with a right to paid time off work);
• a questionnaire procedure in Equal Pay cases;
• a power for the Secretary of State to introduce regulations protecting fixed-term workers;
• new systems for handling disputes in the workplace;
• a fast track system for some employment claims.
If enacted, it is anticipated these rights will come into force from April 2003.
The government has also formally announced it will not be introducing charges for applicants bringing tribunal claims.
For further information, click here.