A government “Plan for Growth” document was issued along with the Budget on 23 March 2011. From an employment law angle the following items are of most significance:
• extension to businesses with fewer than 250 employees of the right for employees to request time to train has not been implemented on 6 April 2011 as previously planned;
• extension to parents of 17 year olds of the right to request flexible working has not been implemented on 6 April 2011 as previously planned;
• the “dual discrimination” rules in Equality Act 2010 have not been introduced on 6 April 2011 as previously planned
• the government “will consult to remove the unworkable requirement in the Equality Act for businesses to take reasonable steps to prevent persistent harassment of their staff by third parties …”.
Other relevant matters include:
• basic personal income tax allowance to go up by £1,000 (to £7,475) in April 2011 and by a further £630 (to £8,105) from April 2012;
• consultation on simplification and merging of income tax and National Insurance;
• abolition of the so-called “Default Retirement Age” (at 65) has proceeded as planned from 6 April 2011;
• up to 50,000 additional apprenticeships and up to 100,000 additional work experience placements over the next four years;
• a moratorium exempting micro (fewer than 10 employees) and start-up businesses from new domestic regulation for three years from 1 April 2011;
• promote labour mobility “by boosting the supply of housing through support for the housebuilding industry, with a FirstBuy shared equity programme to assist over 10,000 first time buyers to get on the housing ladder”;
• increase Approved Mileage Allowance Payments from 40 pence to 45 pence per mile and extend it to cover volunteers travelling as passengers;
• the National Insurance rate rise which the last Government announced will have to go ahead.
• ending the practice of “disguised remuneration” which “sees highly paid employees offered tax-free, lifetime loans that are never repaid”.
• increasing employee contributions for public service pensions by “an average of 3 percentage points”;
• Lord Young’s recommendations on health and safety laws will be implemented in full;
• plans will proceed for introduction (over many years and not for current pensioners) of a single-tier flat-rate state pension (currently estimated to be worth around £140 to £150 per week)