On 6 April 2014, various changes were implemented into the sphere of employment law, all of which have the potential to affect employers and their employees.
Here are 10 important changes that you need to know about:
1. Amendments to TUPE – Post transfer pension contributions
The Occupational Pension Schemes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2014 mean that transferee employers will now have the option to match the current transferor’s level of employer pension contributions, even if less than the prescribed minimum of 6% following a TUPE transfer.
2. Pre-claim conciliation
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (“Enterprise Reform Act”) has introduced a requirement for potential claimants to lodge details of their proposed Employment Tribunal claim with ACAS before being permitted to issue a claim. Only after a conciliation officer concludes that a settlement is not possible, or where the prescribed one month period passes without settlement will the Claimant be issued with a certificate and be allowed to issue proceedings.
3. No more discrimination questionnaires
The Enterprise Reform Act repealed the statutory procedure which enables an employee to submit a discrimination questionnaire to their employer and for the information provided to be used as evidence in tribunal proceedings.
4. Increased penalties for aggravated breaches of employment rights
The Enterprise Reform Act gives Tribunals the power to impose a financial penalty against employers that are in breach of employment rights where the breach has one or more aggravating features. The amount of the penalty will be 50% of any Tribunal award. The penalty is subject to a minimum threshold of £100 and a maximum of £5,000. Employers will qualify for a reduction of 50% of the penalty if they pay within 21 days after the day on which notice of the decision to impose the penalty is sent to the employer. This will apply in cases presented on or after 6 April 2014.
5. Minimum rates increase
The rates of statutory maternity pay, ordinary and additional statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay and the standard rate of statutory sick pay (“SSP”) have increased.
6. Increase to Employment Tribunal Fees – more Type B claims
The Courts and Tribunals Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2014 re-categorises a number of claims as Type B, which attract a higher fee of £250.00. This includes equal pay, sex equality in pension schemes, failure to inform or consult under TUPE, failure to allow compensatory rest under the Working Time Regulations and breach of the right to request time off for training.
7. Abolition of the Percentage Threshold Scheme
The Percentage Threshold Scheme allowed certain employers to reclaim SSP from HMRC where the total SSP in a month exceeded 13% of their NI contributions for the month. This scheme has been abolished.
8. Abolition of SSP record keeping obligations
The Statutory Sick Pay (Maintenance of Records) (Revocation) Regulations 2014 abolish the obligation on employers to keep records of dates of sickness and SSP payments.
9. Maximum Compensatory Award to increase
Where the termination date falls on or after the 6 April the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will be £76,574.00, up from £74,200.00 (or 52 weeks’ gross pay, whichever the lowest).
10. Increased penalty for employing illegal workers
The Immigration (Employment of Adults Subject to Immigration Control) (Maximum Penalty) (Amendment) Order 2013 increases the maximum civil penalty where an employer is found to have employed adults who do not have the right to work in the UK to £20,000.00