Employment Law Changes

14th April 2014

A leading employment lawyer advises businesses in the region to take heed of a number of important changes in the law that came into effect on 6th April 2014.

Simon Bond, a lawyer at West Midlands firm Higgs & Sons, says that some of the key changes to the law include a rise in the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal to £76,574 (or 12 month's pay, whichever is lower) and an increase in the amount of a maximum week's pay from £450 to £464 - a figure used to calculate a basic award for unfair dismissal and to calculate statutory redundancy payments.

Simon said: "Employers making redundancies from this point forward will need to take account of the new rate of a 'week's pay' when calculating statutory redundancy payments."

Other changes will see an employment allowance introduced entitling businesses and charities to a reduction of £2,000 in employer NI contribution bills each year, with employers who usually pay less than £2,000 a year not having to pay any at all. The government estimates that up to 1.25 million businesses and charities will benefit from Employment Allowance.

Also, Early Conciliation will be introduced meaning that, before a claim can be lodged with the Employment Tribunal, employees will be obliged to send details of their dispute to ACAS, who will attempt conciliation and settlement.

Meanwhile, provisions in the Equality Act 2010 allowing employees to submit discrimination questionnaires will be repealed. The questionnaires allowed people to ask questions and obtain information from employers ahead of lodging a discrimination claim.

Simon commented: "We would advise that the abolition of the questionnaire procedure is likely to make little difference in practice. That is because Employment Tribunals will still be able to draw inferences of discrimination against an employer who is evasive or fails to respond to an employee's reasonable enquiry."

Employment Tribunals will be able to levy a financial penalty of up to a maximum of £5,000 on employers who lose a claim and where there are "aggravating features". That term is not defined and ultimately, this will be for the Employment Tribunal to decide, taking into account any factors which it considers relevant, including the circumstances of the case and the employer's particular circumstances.

There will also be changes to the rates of Statutory Sick Pay and all areas of maternity and paternity pay, while the maximum civil penalty for employing illegal immigrants will double from £10,000 to £20,000.

Higgs' employment team works in partnership with businesses across the Midlands and nationally. To find out how they can support your business on employment issues, call Simon on 0845 111 5050 or email simon.bond@higgsandsons.co.uk .


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