OCTOBER 2012 AND BEYOND – WHAT CHANGES COULD WE EXPECT?
SummaryDespite many pledges from Government to change the employment law landscape, this October’s legislative programme is a relatively quiet one for employment lawyers and employers.
Despite many pledges from Government to change the employment law landscape, this October’s legislative programme is a relatively quiet one for employment lawyers and employers. Many proposed statutory changes are still either currently before Parliament or still in the pipeline. However, as we look forward to October 2012 and beyond, there are still some changes employers should be aware of.
AUTOMATIC PENSIONS ENROLMENT – 1 OCTOBER 2012
From 1 October 2012, employers will be required to “auto-enrol” eligible employees not currently participating in a workplace pension scheme into either a qualifying pension scheme or the Government’s National Employment Savings Trust (NEST).
The duty to auto-enrol will depend on the employer’s PAYE scheme size and reference - not all employers will be affected at once. Employers may postpone enrolment for three months. There are also other legislative changes linked to pension auto-enrolment concerning the pension scheme information that has to be provided to any new and existing members.
We will be running a series of articles on the planed pension changes. However, for further information about the changes, please contact our Employment Team on 0118 952 7284 or email@example.com
NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES – 1 OCTOBER 2012
The main rate of the national minimum wage will rise from £6.08 to £6.19 per hour from 1 October 2012. There is no change to the rate for 18-20 year olds (£4.98 per hour) or for 16-17 year olds (£3.68 per hour); however, the apprentice rate increases from £2.60 to £2.65 per hour. The accommodation offset rate also increases from £4.73 to £4.82 per day.
OTHER PROPOSED CHANGES:
INCREASE TO PARENTAL LEAVE – MARCH 2013
An EU initiative to increase the amount of parental leave from 3 to 4 months following birth or adoption has yet to be implemented into domestic law. The EU Directive came into force on 8 March 2012, but the Government confirmed that it would be relying on the exception that allows member states an extra year for implementation. This change will therefore be implemented by March 2013.
FEES FOR TRIBUNAL CLAIMS INTRODUCED – SUMMER 2013
Claimants who issue a claim against their employer in the employment tribunal will be required to pay a fee. There are two levels of claim and fee, depending on the complexity of the case. The claimant pays an initial fee to issue a claim and a further fee if the claim proceeds to a hearing. The tribunal may order the fees to be repaid to the claimant if he or she is successful with his or her claim. Fees are also payable for appeals submitted to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
OTHER EMPLOYMENT CHANGES
We have been reporting on many proposed changes to employment law and in particular, the Employment Tribunal System. Some of the proposed changes have come about following a review of the system itself, others through the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (ERRB), currently before Parliament.
Some changes we expect, although as yet they are to be confirmed, are:
- All potential employment tribunal claims referred to ACAS;
- Financial penalties imposed on employers that breach employment rights;
- Whistle blowing legislation amended - a disclosure will not be protected unless the employee reasonably believes that the disclosure is made in the public interest;
- Rapid resolution scheme introduced for employment tribunal claims;
- Judges to hear appeal cases alone – this extends the scheme currently run in the employment tribunal where judges may hear certain cases alone;
- Compromise agreements renamed as “settlement agreements”;
- Concept of “protected conversations” introduced.