The 6th April 2014 brought in a number of key employment law changes, many of which we have been blogging about over the last few months. Most of these changes affect tribunal claims and include:
Mandatory ACAS early conciliation
The Pre –Claim ACAS conciliation scheme is now operational but not mandatory until 6 May 2014. From 6 May, claimants must contact Acas before filing a tribunal claim. Acas will then offer pre claim conciliation for a one month period (which can be extended by two weeks) after which if unsuccessful, the claim can be processed. There is no obligation on either the claimant or the respondent to agree to conciliation during this one month period. The Acas Early Consideration Notifications website is now live and available here. Existing tribunal time limits are to be adjusted to allow pre-claim conciliation before a claim is brought at tribunal.
Abolition of discrimination questionnaire
Another procedural change is the abolition of the statutory questionnaire in discrimination cases which was brought in by the Equality Act 2010.
The questionnaire will be replaced with an informal approach set out in non-statutory Acas guidance, which deals with asking and responding to questions about discrimination.
Changes to tribunal fees
Following the introduction of employment tribunal fees, the Courts and Tribunals Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2014 will remedy mistakes in the original legislation which means a number of claims will now be categorised as “Type B” claims, which attract a higher fee. These include claims of equal pay and failure to inform and consult under TUPE.
Introduction of employer penalties in tribunal claims
For claims presented on/after 6 April 2014, Tribunals will have the power to impose financial penalties on employers who lose tribunal claims by requiring them to pay up to £5,000. The penalty is to be paid to the Secretary of State – not the successful claimant.
Increase in compensatory award
For employees whose effective date of termination is on or after 6 April, the maximum Tribunal compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase to £76,574 (or 52 weeks’ gross pay, if lower).
Increase in statutory rates and payments
The standard rates of statutory maternity pay, paternity pay, adoption pay and sick pay are to be increased, as well as the cap on ‘a week’s pay’.
From 6 April 2014
Statutory Sick Pay £87.55
Statutory Maternity Pay £138.18
Statutory Paternity Pay £138.18
Adoption Pay £138.18
Statutory Maximum Weekly Pay £464
Changes in SSP
The Percentage Threshold Scheme allowing employers to claim back SSP is abolished; this will now go to funding the new health and work service to be introduced in 2015. SSP record keeping obligations are also abolished.
Should you have any queries on the issues set out here please speak to your usual adviser in the Employment team or contact Niz Khatun, Trainee Solicitor by email on [email protected] or call 01737 754 521.