Our monthly look at employment law changes and developments.
Legal Issues – April 2012 legislation changes
- Firstly, a reminder that the qualifying period for the right to claim unfair dismissal increases from one year to two (for employees who start employment on or after 6 April 2012).
- Statutory maternity, paternity, and adoption pay increases to £135.45 from 1 April 2012.
- Statutory sick pay rate increases to £85.85 from 6 April 2012.
- The Government’s Modern Workplaces Consultation response is due in Spring, which we reckon is any time soon. This was the consultation in which the Government sought views on, amongst other things, the carrying over of untaken annual leave (a particularly thorny issue in employment law!), a new system of flexible shared parental leave, and extending the right to make a flexible working request to all employees. We will bring you news of the outcome when it is announced.
April 2012 Employment Tribunal changes
April also sees the introduction of some changes to Employment Tribunal rules and practice
For claims brought after 5 April 2012:-
- An Employment Judge will usually sit alone in unfair dismissal cases, unless the Judge directs otherwise. This has caused some dismay amongst both employers and practitioners, as there is a feeling that the quality of the ‘industrial jury’ will be diminished by the absence of the two lay members of the tribunal (drawn from employee and employer bodies).
- The public purse will no longer fund expenses which can be claimed by witnesses for attending tribunals. Now, the tribunal will have discretion to order the payment of any witness’s expenses by any party
- The maximum award of expenses which the tribunal can award increases from £10,000 to £20,000.
- The maximum amount which a tribunal can order a party to pay as a deposit if it considers the claim or response has little reasonable prospects of success increases from £500 to £1,000.
- The Government’s consultation on tribunal fees closed on 6 March 2012. Their original proposal was for one of two options, which would result in fees being charged for a claimant to raise a claim, and possibly an additional fee when the case was listed for hearing (with higher fees applicable where the value of the claim was stated to be more than £30,000). Whatever the outcome, some form of fee system seems inevitable.