Workplace Legislation for October
Businesses need to prepare now for the introduction of new legislation which will come into effect on 1st October, advises ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).
John Davies, head of business law at ACCA says:
“October 1st represents the second key date of 2008 for the introduction of new business legislation, under the Government’s system of storing up new workplace measures for release just twice a year”.
The key points of the legislation coming into effect in October are as follows:
1. Company Law
There will be a new minimum age (16) for service as a company director.
A limited company may not act as the sole director of another limited company – although it can still act if there is another director who is a human being.
The rules regarding disclosure of trading information by companies (on stationery and websites) change. There is a new entitlement, for the benefit of companies in multi–occupancy premises, for company names to be displayed on an electronic screen, as long as each company name is visible for at least 15 continuous seconds in every three minutes.
Private companies will no longer have to go to court to gain approval for a reduction of their capital. In future, they can choose instead to pass a special resolution of shareholders and get the directors to make a declaration of solvency to the effect that the company will still be able to pay its debts over the next 12 months.
Again in the case of private companies only, annual returns made up to 1st October or after will not be required to disclose the addresses of the company’s shareholders.
2. National Minimum Wage
The National Minimum Wage standard rate goes up to £5.73 an hour. The rate for those aged 18 to 21 rises to £4.77 and, in the case of 16 – 17 year olds, to £3.53.
3. Consumer Credit
All businesses licensed by the OFT will be required to provide borrowers with much more information about their accounts, such as an annual statement and regular notices when consumers fall into arrears or incur a default sum. Debt administration service providers and credit information (repair) service providers will need a consumer credit licence as these services will become regulated by the OFT.
New rules to protect consumers in respect of doorstep selling are also coming in on 1st October. Currently, consumers have a seven day cooling off period and cancellation rights when they agree to buy goods or services worth more than £35 from a trader during an unsolicited visit to their home. These rights are extended. They will cover contracts that are made during both solicited and unsolicited visits by traders. The regulations will apply to all contracts with a total payment of more than £35 and they will set the cooling off period to a minimum of seven calendar days. The regulations also require cancellation rights to be clearly and prominently displayed in any written contract or provided in writing if there is no written contract.
4. Estate Agents
All estate agents that deal in residential property will be required to belong to an independent approved ombudsman scheme which will determine disputes between estate agents and buyers or sellers of residential property. Estate agents that fail to join an approved scheme will be subject to a £1,000 penalty charge, which can be repeated if necessary, and will ultimately be banned from carrying out estate agency work if they refuse to join a scheme.
Businesses should also note that female employees whose expected week of childbirth begins on or after 5th October 2008 will enjoy the same contractual benefits during additional maternity leave as they enjoy during ordinary maternity leave.