Employment Law Update June 2014

Employment law changes are coming into effect. Now that it is June, ACAS early conciliation is in place and more is to come with regards to employment laws. The laws are changing as a way to help employees and employers; however, there has been some concern about the cost to employers. Find out what the updates are so that you can remain ahead of the game.

ACAS Conciliation

Early conciliation between employees and employers is now being requested before any dispute is taken to the tribunal. Employees will need to submit details of any dispute they have before they can expect to make a claim with the employment tribunal. Basically, the law is requesting a month’s time for a conciliation to occur, which can be extended if necessary before the claim will move on to the tribunal. It is not obligatory for either party to accept the terms during the conciliation period, but the hope is that it will lower the number of cases going to the tribunal stage, which will help the employer save money and time.

Tribunal Limits Changed

Another change that is already in effect is the tribunal compensation limits. There is a maximum award for any unfair dismissal: £76,574 or a total of 52 weeks’ pay, depending on which number is less. A week’s pay is taken and will be calculated for the year to determine the amount provided.

Tribunal and Financial Penalties

If negligence, unreasonable behaviour or malice is featured in a tribunal with evidence from the employee, then the tribunal can penalise the employer. The penalty can be between £100 and £5,000. If the employer pays the penalty within 21 days, then it can reduce the amount by 50%.

Discrimination Questionnaires

There is a new update to the employment law regarding Discrimination Questionnaires that came into effect in April. Before, the Equality Act allowed an employee or former employee who was going to bring a discrimination claim against an employer to send a questionnaire to the employer. This questionnaire needed to be answered within eight weeks. If the employer did not answer or was evasive with the answers, the tribunal could then infer that there was discrimination. Now the questionnaire can no longer be sent, but employees can still ask questions and get answers (or receive no reply), which the tribunal will take into account.

Statutory Payment Changes

Maternity, paternity and adoption statutory payments will increase to £138.18 per week. Sick pay will also increase, to £87.55. Employers will also see a change in the record keeping obligations they had with statutory payments. It is now possible to have more flexible methods for recording absences from work; basically, employers will need to determine a system that best suits their needs. Also, employers are unable to collect SSP from HMRC anymore.

Illegal Workers

Anyone found to be employing illegal migrants will now have to pay double the penalty that was required to be paid before. The Government is trying to prevent illegal migrants from working, by strengthening employers’ desire against it. The fee was £10,000, and now it is doubled.

These are just a few of the updates to the employment laws that have occurred in the past few months. There are delayed changes with regard to flexible working, and health and work service. The changes meant to be in effect in April will now start at the end of June for flexible working. The health and work service changes are on hold until October and will gradually come into effect as late as April 2015. This gives the industry more time to phase out the old and get the new service started.