There have been a number recent changes to the law
One change to the law which has had extensive media coverage is the ban on smoking in cars with children.
Ban on smoking in cars with children – drivers of private vehicles are now prohibited from smoking in their cars with passengers under the age of 18. Employers should check whether this could apply to staff carrying out their duties and, if so amend staff handbooks and policies accordingly.
Extension of the Sikh safety helmet exemption – if they so wish, Sikhs have already been exempted from wearing safety helmets on construction sites. This has now been extended to nearly all other workplaces and applies even if health and safety laws would require non-Sikhs workers to wear a safety hat. Some limited exceptions to these rules apply to work/training in the emergency services and the military.
Relaxation of health and safety obligations of the self-employed – where someone is self-employed and has no staff, their obligations under the Health & Safety at Work Act will now only apply if they carry out certain “prescribed” activities where there is likely to be some potential risk of harm to others.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 – It covers:
- what should happen when goods are faulty;
- what should happen when digital content is faulty;
- how services should match up to what has been agreed, and what should happen when they do not, or when they are not provided with reasonable care and skill;
- unfair terms in a contract;
- what happens when a business is acting in a way which isn’t competitive;
- written notice for routine inspections by public enforcers, such as Trading Standards; and
- greater flexibility for public enforcers, such as Trading Standards, to respond to breaches of consumer law, such as seeking redress for consumers who have suffered harm.
- The timescale for automatic fault replacement is now 30 days not a reasonable timescale
This will be the first time that rights on digital content will have been set out in legislation. The Act gives consumers a clear right to repair or replacement of faulty digital content such as online film and games, music downloads and e-books.
From July, Alternative Dispute Resolution will be available to all businesses to help when a dispute with a consumer cannot be settled directly. Up until now, the service has only been available in certain sectors. A business which is involved in a dispute will need to make the consumer aware of a relevant certified Alternative Dispute Resolution provider. The business should also let the consumer know whether or not they are prepared to use the Alternative Dispute Resolution provider to deal with the dispute. A business does not have to use Alternative Dispute Resolution unless it operates in a sector where existing legislation makes it mandatory (for example, financial services).