Planned Employment Law Changes for 2013

9
Jan

2013 is going to be a busy one for employment law changes. Lots of these changes have come about as a result of the Government’s promise of a ‘one-in-two-out’ policy for regulation from 2013. Here is my roundup of changes that are planned through to summer and how to prepare.

February 2013

Statutory Compensation Rates

On 1st February the following statutory compensation and pay rates increase:

  • Maximum amount of a ‘week’s pay’ for the purpose of calculating a redundancy payment or tribunal award increases to £450.
  • Limit on the amount of compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases to £74,200.
  • Limit on the daily amount of statutory guarantee payment – increases to £24.20.

Action: Companies preparing for redundancy should check their calculations reflect the new rates.

March 2013

Parental Leave

By 8th March unpaid parental leave will increase from 13 to 18 weeks for each child.

Action: Parental Leave policies should be updated now and published from March.

DBS (CRB) Checks

Did you know the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is now called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), and CRB checks are now called DBS checks? So if others are talking about DBS and you are saying CRB you both mean the same thing – glad we cleared that up!

DBS checks go online making them transferable from one employer to the next. So before taking on new staff employers will be able to confirm whether any changes have been made following an earlier DBS check.

Action: The system should be in place by March, for updated information go to www.dbschecks.co.uk

April 2013

Statutory Pay Rates

For the tax year 2013/14 the following statutory pay rates increase:

  • The standard weekly rate of maternity, paternity and adoption pay will increase to £136.78.
  • The weekly rate of SSP will increase to £86.70.
  • The lower earnings limit applying to NI contributions will increase to £109 per week.

Action: It is assumed the increases will take effect from the start of the new tax year. If you provide calculations to employees about statutory payments you should update your rates.

Collective Redundancy Consultation

Where 100 or more redundancies are proposed the collective redundancy consultation period will reduce from 90 to 45 days from April 2013. Fixed-term contracts will be excluded from collective redundancy consultation if they have reached the end of their natural life. ACAS are to provide new non-statutory guidance to address a number of key issues affecting collective redundancy consultation.

Action: Until the new timescale is confirmed you have a duty to consult with employees for 90 days before giving notice.

Government Introduces Employee-Owner Contracts

Following a period of consultation the Government has committed to introducing an ‘employee-owner’ contract in April 2013.  Employees will be issued with shares in the business in exchange for signing away certain employment rights, including protection from ordinary unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payments. The findings of the consultation were published in December 2012 and stated ‘a very small number of responses welcomed the scheme and suggested they would be interested in taking it up,’ which begs the question ‘why bother with consultation if you are going to implement something very few respondents want?’

Action: The Government has not provided guidance in setting up and managing employee shareholder contracts, until clarity is provided do nothing.

May 2013

Protection of Healthcare Workers

EU member states must implement legislation that gives increased protection to healthcare workers by 11 May 2013. The increased protection includes provision to prevent injuries caused by sharp objects.

Action: If you are in healthcare check the HSE website for information on assessing and reducing risks, or seek qualified Health & Safety advice.

Summer 2013

Introduction of Employment Tribunal Fees

The Government will introduce employment tribunal fees in the summer of 2013. Fees will depend on the nature of the claim and whether it is an individual claim or part of a multiple claim. Proposed fees include:

  • An issue fee of £160 or £250, depending on claim;
  • A hearing fee of £230 or £950
  • An Employment Appeal Tribunal issue fee of £400 and £1200 hearing fee.

Tribunals will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse fees paid by the successful party and a fee remission system will operate for those who cannot afford to pay.

Action: Hopefully this will help reduce the number of tribunal claims, strong policies consistently applied will help to reduce the risk of a claim against your business.

Watch this space… There are many more changes planned, some are due in autumn and winter, many others have no set dates. Over the coming months I will provide a roundup of changes due and how to prepare for them.

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