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April 2014 - Changes to Employment Law

March 2014
From the beginning of April, employers need to be aware of a number of changes to employment legislation. In particular, employers should be aware that changes to some statutory rates, such as redundancy pay and the basic award of compensation for unfair dismissal, will be implemented on 6 April 2014 rather than the usual date of 1 February. The changes that are coming into effect in April 2014 are as follows:

Auto-enrolment time period

The time period available to employers for auto-enrolling eligible jobholders into a qualifying pension scheme increases from one month to six weeks as of 1 April 2014.

Proposed employment tribunal claims lodged with ACAS

From 6 April 2014, potential claimants will be required to lodge details of their proposed employment tribunal claim with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), prior to issuing a tribunal claim. After this happens, Acas will offer the employer and the claimant the opportunity to engage in conciliation with a conciliation officer. Acas will have up to a month to achieve a settlement. If settlement is not possible, then the claimant will be issued with a certificate enabling him or her to issue proceedings.

Potential financial penalties for employers at employment tribunal

For cases presented to an employment tribunal on or after 6 April 2014, tribunals will have the power to order that an employer who is unsuccessful at tribunal pay a financial penalty, on top of any compensation due to the successful claimant, when the employer’s breach of employment law has “one or more aggravating features". It is not yet known how this will be interpreted but earlier consultation papers suggest that this would include unreasonable behaviour such as neglect or malice. If the tribunal makes an award of compensation, the amount of the financial penalty will be 50% of the award. The penalty is subject to a minimum threshold of £100 and an upper ceiling of £5,000. However, employers will qualify for a reduction of 50% if they pay the penalty within 21 days.

Statutory rates increases

On 6 April 2014, statutory maternity pay, ordinary and additional statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay rates increase from £136.78 per week to £138.18 per week.

Increases in employment tribunal maximum awards

On 6 April 2014, the limits which apply to various tribunal awards and other amounts payable under employment legislation increase. In particular, the maximum amount of a week's pay for the purpose of calculating a redundancy payment, the basic and additional award of compensation for unfair dismissal and the limit on the amount of a guarantee payment increases to £464/week. As of this date, the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise from £74,200 to £76,574.

Statutory procedure on discrimination information repealed

From 6 April 2014, the statutory procedure that enables an employee to obtain information from his or her employer about discrimination and allows that information to be used as evidence in tribunal proceedings is repealed.

NOTE: Rates will be updated in our documents on the day prior to the changes coming into effect.

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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