EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES 2013 – HALF YEAR REPORT!
SummaryA half year review already? Yes! We have been recently inundated with Government proposals, action plans and legislative reform for the year ahead. Before January draws to a close, let us pause and consider what’s in store for the first half of this year.
A half year review already? Yes! We have been recently inundated with Government proposals, action plans and legislative reform for the year ahead. Before January draws to a close, let us pause and consider what’s in store for the first half of this year.
Increase in Compensation Limits - The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal claims will rise from £72,300 to £74,200. The maximum basic award and the maximum amount of statutory redundancy pay will also rise from £12,900 to £13,500. The rate used to calculate a week’s pay for statutory redundancy and unfair dismissal purposes will rise from £430 to £450.
Parental Leave – From 8th March the amount of parental leave available to working parents will increase from 13 to 18 weeks in respect of each child up to the age of 5 (or 18 if disabled). The benefit will remain unpaid.
Third Party Harassment & Questionnaire Procedures - The provisions within the Equality Act that made employers liable where their employees were harassed by third parties and the questionnaire procedures are to be repealed.
Criminal Record Checks – to be renamed “Disclosure and Barring Service”. The checks will also become portable so they don’t need to be reapplied for every time the employee changes job.
Increase in Statutory Rates of Pay – From April, we see the weekly rate of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increase. This year it will increase form £135.45 per week to £136.78. At the same time the rate of statutory sick pay will increase from £85.85 to £86.70.
Collective Redundancy Consultation – as we reported earlier this year, the minimum consultation period where an employer proposes to make 100 or more employees redundant within a 90 day period, is being halved to 45 days. The requirement to consult for 30 days where an employer wishes to make between 20 and 99 employees redundant within a 90 day period will remain the same. ACAS will be preparing a new Code of Practice on the issue of collective consultation. Remember these are “minimum” periods only.
“Employee-Ownership” Introduced - A new type of employment status – the “employee owner” – is set to be introduced from April 2013. In return for shares in their employer’s business, employee-owners will be required to give up certain employment rights – for example, unfair dismissal protection. Rights to bring discrimination claims and other automatic unfair dismissal rights remain unaffected.
Public Interest Disclosures – the “loophole” that did not require a disclosure to be “in the public interest” will be closed from April 2013. This avoids employees “whistleblowing” over certain internal contractual breaches.
New “fit note guidance” – sometime this Spring, a revised “fit note” guidance will be published emphasising the need for GP’s to focus on the individual’s ability to do some work rather than just focusing on the individual’s specific role. There are also plans to set up an independent review body – Health and Work Assessment and Advisory Service – to provide state funded occupational health assessments (no date for this yet).
Increase in PI and discrimination awards – a 10% increase on awards for injury to feelings and personal injury awards in discrimination claims occurs in April.
Gangmaster Licensing – If you are registered as a “Gangmaster”, the way the licensing authority reviews the industry will be changing from May 2013. Changes are being made to the enforcement processes and compliance is to be simplified.
Employment Tribunal Fees - The Government are expected to introduce the requirement for a fee to be paid should a claim be issued at the Employment Tribunal. These are expected to be introduced from the summer. An online payment service will be available from July 2013 on the Ministry of Justice Website.
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill – will become an “Act” in the spring and some major changes will occur this summer as a result:
- The big one – a further “cap” on unfair dismissal compensation of a year’s pay subject to the overall cap of £74,200 (whichever is lower).
- Mandatory ACAS conciliation before issuing a claim – consultation has been announced on this.
- Greater ET management powers – sifting of claims, case management and judges hearing more cases alone.
- Mandatory equal pay audits ordered in certain equal pay and discrimination cases.
- Changes to settlement procedures:
- Compromise agreements renamed as “settlement agreements”
- Standard templates and tariffs
- New Code of Practice
- Right to legal advice preserved
- Parties behaving “improperly” in negotiations cannot hide behind “without prejudice” label in an ET.
Only the small matter of TUPE changes. The government has published its response to consultation on amending the TUPE Regulations. Two big plans here are firstly, the proposed removal of a “service provision change” (contracting in or out of services between contactors or in-house) from the scope of a TUPE transfer and secondly, allowing new employers to make some changes to contracts post transfer. We will keep our readers updated on these changes.
We will continue to remind our readers of when to expect these changes and of any amendments necessary to your currently policies and procedures. As ever, if you require any information or want details of any forthcoming training or update sessions and webinars we will be running, please look at our website www.boyesturner.com or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org