This week's regulation changes - what you need to know

On Saturday 1 October Parliament introduced a raft of changes to legislation that might affect your business.

The changes are wide-ranging, impacting rules on things like tobacco sales, retirement, and the Minimum Wage.

It is important that you understand and comply with the changes. So what has happened, and what do you need to do?

National Minimum Wage

As previously reported the National Minimum Wage has increased, in line with recommendations from the Low Pay Commission.

The new rates are as follows:

  • Adult rate: £6.08 an hour (a 15p increase)
  • 18-20 year old rate: £4.98 an hour (a 6p increase)
  • 16-17 year old rate: £3.68 an hour (a 4p increase)
  • Apprentices: £2.60 an hour (10p increase)

Default Retirement Age

The Default Retirement Age was finally scrapped this week, following a period of phasing out.

This means that employers are no longer allowed to sack workers because of their age. In the past, it was possible to force employees to retire when they reached 65.

Employers could give notices of DRA retirement until 5 April 2011.

Read more about the Default Retirement Age.

Agency workers

Agency workers will receive similar rights to those enjoyed by permanent employees once they have completed 12 weeks of continuous service with an employer.

The most important practical change is that agency workers will then become entitled to equal pay. They will not, however, enjoy the same protection from dismissal.

SIC codes and Annual Returns

Companies House has rolled out SIC 2007 codes across its filing systems. SIC codes help to describe the activities conducted by businesses in the UK. Businesses that are required to file an Annual Return with Companies House will now need to know their SIC 2007 code in order to file.

Read more about SIC codes.

Tobacco sales

It is now illegal to sell any tobacco products in automatic vending machines. Additionally, the advertising of tobacco products on machines is banned.

Drink measures

Licensed premises will now be allowed to sell wine, beer and ciders in smaller measures, provided that they are consumed on the premises.

Wine can be sold in measures smaller than 75ml. Additionally a new ‘schooner’ size, equal to two-thirds of a pint and already popular in Australia, have also been introduced.