Spring changes – Are you ready?

spring-changesIt continues to be a busy year for HR/employment law changes and in order to keep you up to speed with we remind you what’s happening in April.

6 April 2014

  • Statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay and sick pay increases:
  • standard weekly rate of statutory maternity/adoption/paternity pay will increase from £136.78 to £138.18;
  • standard rate of statutory sick pay will increase from £86.70 to £87.55; and
  • weekly earnings threshold for both of these above payments rises from £109 to £111.
  • Financial penalties for employers:  Tribunals will be able to impose financial penalties on employers (capped at £5,000) who lose at Tribunal. These penalties will be in addition to any compensation payable and must be 50% of the award to the claimant (subject to the cap). The penalties can be imposed even if no award is made, but prompt payment within 21 days will reduce the penalty by 50%.  However, Tribunals will only be able to use this new power where the employer’s behaviour in committing the breach of the employee’s rights has one or more “aggravating features” (e.g. negligence or malice). “Aggravating features” are not defined and are likely to be determined by case law.
  • ACAS early conciliation:   Before bringing a Tribunal claim, potential claimants will have to send details of their dispute to ACAS, who will attempt pre-claim conciliation and settlement.  For more detail see Government reforms: ACAS Early Conciliation below.
  • Discrimination:  the statutory discrimination questionnaire will be replaced with a new informal process and new ACAS guidance. See our February Newsletter Discrimination: ACAS Guidance.
  • Statutory Sick Pay:  The Government intends to abolish the SSP record-keeping obligations and allow employers to keep records in a flexible manner more suited to their organisation.
  • Tribunals Fees:  More claims are to be classified as “Type B” claims attracting the higher fees (£250 issue fee and £950 hearing fee for a single claimant).  These are equal pay, sex equality in pension schemes, failure to inform or consult under TUPE, failure to allow compensatory rest under the Working Time Regulations 1998 and breach of the right to request time off for training.
  • Tribunal award limit increase: Please see our Newsflash Awards on the up…Most importantly the unfair dismissal compensatory award is increasing from £74,200 to £76,574. Remember that the compensatory award is also subject to the cap of 52 weeks’ pay, so the Tribunal impose the lower of the two caps.