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Latest Employment Updates

March 2011

There are several changes to employment legislation which will come into effect in April 2011. These include changes to statutory rates for Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, and Statutory Sick Pay; Flexible Working; Positive Action in Recruitment; Tribunal Awards Changes; and Time off for Training Requests.

New Statutory Rates

From 6th April 2011 the following statutory rate increases will take effect:
- Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance, Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay will increase from £124.88 to £128.73; and
- Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £79.15 to £81.60.

Flexible Working

The eligibility criteria for employees who wish to make a flexible working request will not now change on 6 April as originally planned. As at present, employees may make a flexible working request if they have a child under the age of 17 or a disabled child below the age of 18.

Positive Action in Recruitment

The Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1 October 2010 and the section regarding positive action in recruitment and promotion will apply as of 6 April 2011. ‘Positive action’ means the steps that an employer can take to encourage people from groups with different needs or with a past record of disadvantage or low participation, to apply for jobs. Employers are permitted, not required, to take positive action

One of the conditions of the positive action provisions is that employers must not routinely treat people with a protected characteristic more favourably: it must be used only in tie-break situations.

In order to take positive action without this constituting unlawful discrimination, an employer must reasonably think that people who share a protected characteristic suffer a disadvantage connected to the characteristic, or that they are under-represented in the workforce.

Tribunal Awards Changes

From 1 February 2011 the following compensation limits for Employment Tribunal Awards took effect:
- The maximum basic award for unfair dismissal increased from £11,400 to £12,000; and
- The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increased from £65,300 to £68,000.

This increase means that the greatest possible award for an ordinary unfair dismissal claim is now £80,400.

For further details, see the Tribunals, Compensation and Settlement information page.

Time off for Training Requests

The right for employees to make a request for time off to train or study will not be extended to employers with fewer than 250 employees in April 2011 as originally planned. This is in order to allow time for further evaluation. It is not known when the extension will be implemented, if at all.

The Simply-Docs ‘Guidance Notes for Employers – Time Off for Training’ have been updated accordingly.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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