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What employment law changes will the New Year bring?

17 Jan 2012

The coalition government is on a mission to simplify employment law and various changes are expected throughout 2012 and beyond! The notable changes are:

(1) Employees are to pay to bring tribunal claims!
There is currently no fee for an employee / former employee to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal but this is set to change in 2013. The government is consulting on the following options:
Option 1: an initial fee of between £150 and £200 to be payable to bring a claim plus an additional fee of between £250 and £1,250 to be paid if the claim then went to a hearing. The actual fee would depend on the nature of the claim being brought.
Option 2: only one initial fee to be payable depending on the value of the claim. By way of example, a fee of £1,750 would be payable for those seeking an award of over £30,000.
In both cases, the fees may not apply to those who could not afford to pay them and if the claim succeeded, the employer could be ordered to reimburse the fees paid.
(2) Employees need more service!
As of April 2012, the qualifying period is expected to be increased from one to two years for employees wishing to purse unfair dismissal claims. It is not yet clear if this requirement will apply to existing employees or just new starters. Employees will still be able to bring other important claims from day one such as discrimination claims.
(3) New employer pension duties
New laws coming into force in October 2012 will require all employers in Great Britain to automatically enrol eligible jobholders into a pension scheme. The new duties will be formally implemented over four years starting on 1 October 2012, with larger employers being affected before smaller employers and new businesses. The initial wave of employers will be able to voluntarily start auto-enrolment as early as July 2012.

Employment team – 7.4.11

(4) Increase to redundancy payments The maximum amount of a week’s pay, used to calculate statutory redundancy pay, will rise from £400 to £430 for dismissals taking effect on or after 1 February 2012. 

(5) New statutory payment rates

The following rates will apply as of April 2012:
(a) The standard rates for statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay will increase to £135.45 per week.
(b) Statutory sick pay will increase to £85.85 per week.

Watch this space for further announcements throughout the year including whether there will be financial penalties for employers who lose tribunal claims and whether there will have to be compulsory ACAS mediation before employees are allowed to pursue claims.

Please note: This article is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues. Please contact us to discuss how the contents of the article may affect you.