Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015
Trinity Business and Employment barrister, Richard Stubbs provides a short overview of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.
This Act received Royal Assent on 26th March 2015 and sets out a wide range of new provisions covering from company registration, to childcare, pubs, employment and insolvency amongst other areas. Some of the provisions of the Act came into force on the day it received Royal Assent, some are due to come into effect two months after the Royal Assent and other provisions will come into effect on a date to be notified in the future.
Some of the areas of note include:
- That home businesses will be excluded from the statutory protection afforded by Part 2 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. This provision has not yet been brought into force and is intended to reduce the perceived need for residential landlords to restrain tenants from operating a business from the demised property due to concerns of it coming within the ambit of the 1954 Act.
- Additional grounds for disqualification of directors to be introduced in the future will include disqualification if convicted of a company related offence abroad and also disqualification of any person who is found to have controlled/instructed a director who is disqualified. The matters to be taken into account in any such disqualification are also set out and measures are to be introduced to allow creditors of a company that is insolvent to be awarded compensation against a disqualified director.
Insolvency amendments include:
- That liquidators and trustees in bankruptcy may exercise the powers contained in Schedule 4 and 5 of the 1986 Act respectively without the need for sanction of the court, a creditor’s committee or the secretary of state
- That an administration may be extended with the consent of creditors to a maximum period of one year rather than the previous six months
- That rules can be created (there are none as yet) to allow an office holder in bankruptcy or insolvency to pay a distribution to a creditor without the need for that creditor to submit a claim where the debt is below a prescribed amount (believed to be intended to be £1,000)
- The abolition of fast track IVAs and the introduction of a 28 day time limit to challenge IVAs where there is no interim order from the date that the creditors decided whether to approve the IVA
Employment amendments include:
- One amendment that is already in force provides for the power to introduce a limit to the number of postponements allowed for ET hearings and also a mandatory requirement that an ET must consider making a costs order where there is a late application for a postponement
- The Secretary of State must make provision within 12 months of the passing of the Act for the publishing of information showing the gender pay gap
- Exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts are rendered unenforceable
- Specific power for the Secretary of State to regulate prohibiting NHS employers discriminating against job applicants because they have made a protected disclosure
- Provision for financial penalties against those who fail to pay ET awards; the explanatory notes stating that only around half of those in receipt of an ET award receive any payment prior to enforcement
- That regulations can be made to require public sector employees to repay exit payments made to them if they return to the same sector of employment within one year of the payment
Richard, who is an accredited Mediator and on the Treasury Solicitor's Regional Panel of Counsel, is a member of Trinity Chambers' Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Business, Chancery, Costs and Employment Law groups.