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New employment regulations come into force

A raft of new employment regulations have come into effect, including a 15p increase in the national minimum wage, new rights for agency workers, and the final abolishment of the default retirement age.

With effect from 1 October, the main rate of the minimum wage, which applies to adults aged 21 or over, has increased to £6.08 an hour. The development rate, which applies to those aged 18 to 20, has risen to £4.98 an hour, and the apprentice rate has increased to £2.60.

Meanwhile, 1 October also saw the introduction of new rights to pay and benefits for agency workers. Those who have completed 12 weeks of service in the same role with an employer will be entitled to many of the same employment and working conditions as other staff, including pay, overtime payments and holiday entitlements.

Temporary workers will also be able to enjoy certain staff facilities, including childcare facilities, canteens and transport services, from the first day of their employment.

The rules apply to those whose period of employment began on or after 1 October 2011.

Finally, the default retirement age has now been fully abolished, making it illegal for employers to force staff to retire once they reach the age of 65, on the grounds of age alone.

A phasing out of the default retirement age began in April this year, and employers who wish to enforce retirement will now have to objectively justify their decision.

Some experts are suggesting that employers will offer their staff a ‘golden goodbye’, to encourage them to move on.