As if you didn?t already know, 2013 means major changes in Employment Law!
Last year brought us an increase of the 1 year threshold for (normal*) unfair dismissal claims to 2 years thereby, in theory reducing the number of possible claimants and as we announced more good news for employers is on the agenda from now onwards.
Here are the major highlights of what promises to be a major shake-up.
Reduced Collective Redundancy Consultation Period
From 6th April 2013 the current requirement to consult with employees for a minimum period of 90 days (where an employer is proposing to make 100 or more staff members redundant) will be reduced to 45 days. The minimum period where an employer is proposing to dismiss 20 to 99 employees remains unchanged at 30 days.
Increase in Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Sick Pay
From 6 April 2013:
Statutory maternity pay, paternity pay and adoption pay increases from ?135.45 to ?136.78 per week and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is rising to ?86.70 per week.
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill 2012 expected to receive Royal Assent
The Bill provides for:
- early conciliation of claims via ACAS (by requiring claims to be submitted to ACAS before they can be presented to the employment tribunal);
- the re-naming of compromise agreements as settlement agreements;
- employers being able to offer a settlement agreement to an employee before a formal dispute arises and protected legally from settlement discussions being used in evidence in any subsequent unfair dismissal claim;
- repeal of the third party harassment provisions of the Equality Act 2010;
- abolition of discrimination questionnaires;
- changes to whistleblowing laws;
- discretionary financial penalties of between ?100 and ?5,000 for unsuccessful respondents in tribunal claims;
- a power to change the current cap on the unfair dismissal compensatory award. The Government has confirmed that the cap willl be set at one year’s pay or the current statutroy maximum, whichever is the lower;
- a power for employment tribunals to order pay audits where an employer is found guilty of gender discrimination in relation to contractual or non-contractual pay matters;
- judges to sit alone in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, unless ordered otherwise;
- the introduction of legal officers to make decisions on paper in certain cases where the parties agree;
- provisions for greater shareholder control over executive pay, including a binding shareholder vote on pay policy (including the approach to termination payments), an annual advisory vote on how pay policy has been implemented and a requirement for companies to report as a single figure the total pay each director received for the year, details of whether they met performance targets and a comparison between company performance and the chief executive’s pay.
From Summer 2013, the following changes will apply:
Employment Tribunal fees to be introduced
Fees will be charged for issuing and hearing tribunal claims and for various applications made during tribunal proceedings. Level 1 fees for simpler claims will be ?160 (issue) and ?230 (hearing). Level 2 fees for more complex claims including unfair dismissal, discrimination and equal pay will be ?250 (issue) and ?950 (hearing).
The Government’s proposals for facilitating the use of settlement agreements are expected to come into force. Employers will be able to offer a settlement agreement at any time, irrespective of whether there is an existing dispute, with neither party being able to refer to the fact that an agreement has been offered in subsequent unfair dismissal proceedings should an agreement not be reached, unless there has been “improper behaviour.”
Compensatory award cap
A cap on the compensatory award of one year’s pay will be introduced. The current statutory maximum will apply, if lower.
Change to whistleblowing laws
Under changes being introduced by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, employees dismissed or subjected to a detriment as a result of complaining about a breach of their own employment contract will no longer be able to bring a whistleblowing claim. Employers will also be made vicariously liable for victimisation by colleagues of workers who have blown the whistle, unless they have taken reasonable steps to prevent this happening. At the same time, the requirement that disclosures be made in good faith is being removed. Instead, where a disclosure is not made in good faith, employment tribunals will be able to reduce compensation by up to 25% if they consider it just and equitable to do so.