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A host of employment law changes happened in 2012.
The government’s “Red Tape Challenge” aims to identify which existing employment regulations should be scrapped or improved.
The challenge aims to make life simpler for you as a business owner as well as to boost economic recovery in the UK.
Some of the main changes you need to be aware of include:
This consultation is on wide-ranging reforms to the existing employment tribunal system. Its aim was to resolve more disputes earlier without recourse to a tribunal. It also looked at ways to achieve a fast, user-friendly and effective tribunal system to give business owners more confidence in hiring people.
This consultation is to consider the merits of two very different fee charging structures. The first option proposes an issue fee and a hearing fee, based on the size of the claim and whether it was an individual claim or multiple claims.
The second option is considering only an issue fee based on what the claimant states their claim to be worth.
This consultation sets out a plan for creating a culture of flexible, family-friendly employment practices in the UK. The main proposals include:
Unpaid leave for fathers to attend antenatal appointments and an 18-week period of maternity leave for mothers, followed by a new 34-week period of shared parental leave
The right to request flexible working to be extended to all employees with 26 week’s continuous employment and a new requirement for employers to consider requests “reasonably”
The ability for workers to carry used leave over to the next holiday year, including any not taken due to absence on maternity, adoption, parental and paternity leave
Increasing employer flexibility on annual leave by allowing employers to buy out their employees’ additional 1.6 week’s annual leave entitlement under regulation 13A of the WTR 1998; or to require employees to carry over all or part of this entitlement in cases of genuine overriding business need
New power for employment tribunals to order employers to conduct and publish a pay audit if it is found to have breached the Equality Act 2010
The recently-announced new Tribunal awards limits come into force.
The right to unpaid parental leave increases from 13 weeks to 18 weeks.
CRB checks, now known as DBS checks (disclosure and barring checks) will now be portable between employers and will be available online for employers to check.
Employee-shareholder contracts will be introduced by the Government. Under these contracts employees will be given shares in their employer in exchange for them signing away certain employment rights.
Where there are 100 or more redundancies proposed, the consultation period reduces from 90 days to 45 days. ACAS will update its guidance on this and it is expected that fixed-term contracts which have reached the end of their term are excluded from obligations to collectively consult.
The standard rate of statutory sick pay increases from £85.85 to £86.70 per week.
The standard rates for maternity, paternity and adoption pay are increased from £135.45 per week to £136.78 per week.
Employment Tribunal fees will be introduced for any employee who wishes to lodge a claim at the Tribunal. An online system will be available in order to pay fees. Currently, the fees proposed to depend on the type of claim brought, and are as follows:
There are several other fees, for example, £60 for an application to dismiss following settlement and £600 for judicial mediation
Tribunals will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fees paid by the successful party and a fee “remission” system will operate for those who cannot afford to pay these fees. However, the Government has not yet released details of this.
A cap of 12 months’ pay will be imposed on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal claims. The current financial cap will remain if 12 months’ pay is greater than the 12-month cap.
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