Jersey Employment And Housing Law Changes Discussed

By Editorial 24 December, 2012

Leading Channel Islands law firm Carey Olsen has held an event in Jersey to discuss a number of key legislative changes expected to be introduced in 2013, impacting the territory's employment, housing and discrimination laws.

The seminar, which attracted just under 100 human resources practitioners from a range of industries across Jersey, heard presentations from Carey Olsen's employment and pension specialists on key Channel Islands tribunal cases during 2012 and on the planning needed to prepare their businesses for the legislative changes.

Carey Olsen's Huw Thomas told attendees: "The most significant statutory employment law development in Jersey during 2012 was the completion of the statutory redundancy scheme of the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003. The final piece of the jigsaw was the collective consultation requirements which are triggered when an employer seeks to make twelve or more employees redundant, at a single establishment, within a 30-day period. Should employers fail to comply with the consultation they may have to pay remuneration to affected employees for a period of up to nine weeks. The costs of getting things wrong are, therefore, significant."

Thomas added: "UK case law is very influential in Channel Islands employment law. HR professionals must also have an understanding of the latest legal developments in the UK and the consequences for their own businesses.”

Delegates were also reminded that they should ensure that express contractual restrictions, such as restrictive covenants and confidentiality obligations, are in order. Thomas continued: "When employees leave an organization, confidential information and business knowledge often moves with them. Employers need to ensure they have appropriate restrictive covenants in place and that such covenants are understood and signed by employees."

"Employers need to take a practical approach should an employee resign. They must ensure that they have appropriately planned the exit process to identify risks and potential breaches in relation to commercially sensitive information and to remind the employee of his or her obligations,” stressed Thomas.

Meanwhile, the Control of Housing and Work (Jersey) Law 2012 will simplify the existing housing regime, in particular for non-resident workers, reducing the current fifteen categories of housing qualification to just four categories of residential and employment status. Residents will be required to obtain a registration card on certain "trigger" events including when they move jobs. Employers will still have to comply with the terms of a licence prescribing a specific headcount for certain types of employee.

Carey Olsen associate, Sarah Townsend said: "The new law is intended to reduce bureaucracy but much will depend on the terms of the licence granted to an employer. Employers will be particularly keen to understand the criteria for an employee to achieve ‘licensed’ status, which is similar to the current ‘j-category’ licence, as this may have an impact on their ability to attract and retain non-local staff.”

Jersey is likely to introduce a discrimination law, in either late 2013 or 2014, to take into account both direct and indirect discrimination in relation to race and, subsequently, in relation to discrimination on the grounds of a person's sex or disability.

Thomas continued: "Employers are likely to be liable for discriminatory acts conducted by employees in the course of their employment. Employers can defend themselves on the basis that they took reasonable steps to prevent prohibited acts."

"Employers should now be considering how best they can protect themselves and their employees," he added. "Developing and implementing an equality policy and ensuring staff are trained and understand the policy are all practical steps employers should be looking at now before the new law takes effect."

Tags: Expatriates | Investment | Business | Law | Employees | International Financial Centres (IFC) | Jersey | Offshore | Professionals | Legislation |


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