26th March 2014
Employment Law Changes – April 2014
There are several key changes to employment law coming into force on 6th April 2014, details of which are set out below:
Abolition of discrimination questionnaires: Section 67 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA 2013) will repeal section 138 of the Equality Act 2010, to abolish statutory discrimination questionnaires. However, Acas has published good practice guidance on how employers should deal with questions regarding discrimination in the workplace after statutory discrimination questionnaires are abolished (click here for further information)
Mandatory pre-claim Acas conciliation: Sections 7 to 9 and Schedules 1 and 2 of ERRA 2013 set out a four-step procedure for early conciliation (EC) through Acas before an employment tribunal claim can be commenced. Transitional provisions cover the period between 6 April and 5 May 2014 during which EC will be available to prospective claimants. EC will be mandatory for claims presented on or after 6 May 2014.
Increase to employment tribunal fees: The Courts and Tribunals Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2014 (SI 2014/590) has been laid before parliament and will come into force on 6 April 2014. The main effect of the order from an employment law perspective is to re-classify the following claims as “Type B” claims attracting the higher fees (£250 issue fee and £950 hearing fee for a single claimant):
- Equal pay.
- Sex equality in pension schemes.
- Failure to inform or consult under TUPE.
- Failure to allow compensatory rest under the Working Time Regulations 1998.
- Breach of the right to request time off for training.
This is to remedy what the government has identified as a mistake in the original legislation which categorised those claims as “Type A”, attracting the lower fees (£160 issue fee and £230 hearing fee). The Order also corrects errors in the existing legislation concerning the definition of “excluded benefits” in relation to fee remissions.
Financial penalties for losing employers: From 6th April 2014, employment tribunals will have the power to order that a losing employer pay a financial penalty in specified circumstances. However, this will only apply in cases presented on or after 6 April 2014.
Abolition of SSP record-keeping obligations: The Statutory Sick Pay (Maintenance of Records) (Revocation) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/55) will abolish the obligation on employers to keep specified records of dates of sickness and SSP payments.
Maximum compensatory award increase: The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissals where the effective date of termination falls on or after 6 April 2014 will be increased to £76,574 (or 52 weeks’ gross pay, if lower).
Increases to rates and limits: Several statutory rates and payments will increase on 6 April 2014, including statutory sick pay (up to £87.55 per week from £86.70), maternity pay (up to £138.18 per week from £136.78), paternity pay (up to £138.18 per week from £136.78), adoption pay (up to £138.18 per week from £136.78), and the cap on “a week’s pay” (up to £464 from £450).