There are several key changes to employment law coming into force in April 2014. The following changes to employment law come into effect on 6 April 2014:
• Abolition of discrimination questionnaires. Section 67 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA 2013) will repeal section 138 of the Equality Act 2010, to abolish statutory discrimination questionnaires.
• Mandatory Pre-Claim Acas Conciliation. Sections 7 to 9 and schedules 1 and 2 of ERRA 2013 set out a four step procedure for early conciliation (EC) through Acas before an employment tribunal claim can be commenced. Transitional provisions cover the period between 6 April and 5 May 2014 during which Early Conciliation will be available to prospective claimants. Early Conciliation will be mandatory for claims presented on or after 6 May 2014.
• Increase to employment tribunal fees. The Courts and Tribunals Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2014 (SI 2014/590) will re-categorise a number of claims as “Type B” claims, which attract a higher fee.
• Financial Penalties for losing employers. Section 16 of ERRA 2013 inserts a new section 12A into the Employment Tribunals Act 1996 to give tribunals the power to order that a losing employer pay a financial penalty in specified circumstances. This will apply in cases presented on or after 6 April 2014.
• Abolition of the Percentage Threshold Scheme. The Percentage Threshold Scheme enables employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from HMRC, where the total SSP paid in a month exceeds 13% of their Class 1 National Insurance contributions for that month.
• Abolition of SSP record-keeping obligations. The Statutory Sick Pay (Maintenance of Records) (Revocation) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/55) will abolish the obligation on employers to keep specified records of dates of sickness and SSP payments.
• Maximum compensatory award increase. The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal where the effective date of termination falls on or after 6 April 2014, will be increased to £76,574 (or 52 weeks’ gross pay, if lower).
• Increases to rates and limits. Several statutory rates and payments will increase on 6 April 2014, including statutory sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay, adoption pay, and a cap on “a week’s pay”. • Increased Penalty for employing illegal workers. The immigration (Employment of Adults Subject to Immigration Control) (Maximum Penalty) (Amendment) Order 2014 will increase the maximum civil penalty which may be payable under section 15 (2) of the Immigration Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 where an employer is found to have employed adults who are subject to immigration control but do not have the right to work in the UK.
• Changes to TUPE: post-transfer pension contributions. The Occupational Pension Schemes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2014 come into force on 6 April 2014. From that date, transferee employers will have the option to match the transferor’s level of employee pension contributions into a defined contribution scheme, even if they are less than the current minimum of 6%. This is to avoid the situation where employees could be in a more favourable position than they would have been if they had not transferred.
• MP’s added to list of “prescribed person”. The Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) (Amendment) Order 2014 amends the schedule to the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Person’s) Order 1996 to make members of the House of Commons (MP’s) “prescribed persons” in England, Scotland and Wales to whom a whistleblower may, under certain circumstances, make a protected disclosure.
Clare McDairmant, Solicitor & Marketing Manager, Just Employment Solicitors & Advocates.