The Enterprise Act 2016
The Enterprise Act started as the Enterprise Bill in the House of Lords in September 2015. Some provisions of the Act will commence automatically whereas other provisions will require regulations to bring them into force. The Act:
- establishes a Small Businesses Commissioner to empower small businesses (private enterprises with fewer than 50 employees) to resolve disputes with large businesses
- expands the deregulation target to include regulators
- gives the Treasury the power to restrict public sector exit payments; a cap of £95,000 will be put on exit payments in the public sector (the draft regulations to effect this change have been published and are expected to come into force in October 2016)
- enhance shop workers' rights to opt out of working on Sundays. The Act amends the current 'opting in' and 'out' of the Employment Rights Act 1996 so that the amount of notice workers in shops are required to give their employer if they wish to opt out from Sunday working is reduced to one month in place of three months (which will continue to apply for those working in smaller businesses)
- introduces a statutory definition of 'apprenticeship' in England, with a view to ensuring that apprentices have access to high quality training and establishes the Institute for Apprenticeships to support employer-led reforms and regulate the quality of apprenticeships. It will be a statutory offence to label any training 'an apprenticeship' unless it satisfies the statutory requirements or forms part of an individual's employment
Consultations relevant to the Enterprise Bill/Act
Following the closure of a consultation on Devolving Sunday Trading Rules, the government outcome stated they would devolve powers to local councils on Sunday trading and strengthen the rights of shop workers to ’opt-out‘ of working Sundays. However the proposals to allow councils to extend opening hours were dropped after the Commons voted against them in March 2016.
Capping Public Sector Exit Payments
On 31st July 2015 HM Treasury published a consultation on proposals to cap the value of exit payments at £95,000. The consultation closed on 27 August 2015 and the outcome published on 3rd November 2015. Despite a number of respondents opposing the proposals, the government announced its intention to proceed with legislation to introduce a cap on exit payments by taking powers in primary legislation as part of the Enterprise Bill and detail to be implemented through secondary legislation. The Enterprise Bill 2015- 2016 included a provision to insert a new section 153A-C into the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, containing the power to issue regulations to restrict public sector exit payments. The Enterprise Bill became the Enterprise Act 2016 when it received Royal Assent on 4th May 2016 (see above).
Also, the draft Public Sector Exit Payment Regulations 2016 have been published, which will impose a cap of £95,000 on the total aggregate value of exit payments made to public sector workers. They are planned to come into force from Autumn 2016.
A paper on public sector apprenticeship targets was open for consultation until 4 March 2016. The current proposal is for public bodies in England with 250 or more employees will be expected to adhere to a target of 2.3% starts each year (based on the headcount of employees working in England).
Bis carried out a consultation on protecting the term 'apprenticeship' in July 2015.
More information, including a number of fact sheets and the list of Enterprise Act measures is found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/enterprise-bill