Employment Alert – April Employment Law Changes

Employment Alert

‘Increase to maternity, paternity and adoption pay rates 1 April sees the standard rates of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay increasing from £128.83 to £135.45 per week.

Increase in qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims From 6 April, any employee who commences employment on or after that date will need to accrue two years’ service before they are able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

The qualifying period for employees who commenced employment prior to this date will remain at one year.

Changes to Employment Tribunal procedure The 6 April also sees the following changes to Employment Tribunal procedure:

Witness statements will be taken as read unless otherwise directed by the Employment Tribunal.

The normal practice in many tribunals up to now has been for witnesses to be asked to read out their witness statement during an Employment Tribunal hearing unless the Tribunal chooses to read the statements in advance.

Unfair dismissal claims may now be heard by an Employment Judge sitting alone.

An Employment Tribunal will be able to order a deposit order of up to £1,000 (the current maximum is £500).

An Employment Tribunal will be able to make a maximum costs award of £20,000 (the current maximum is £10,000).

Increase to statutory sick pay rate From 6 April 2012, the standard rate of statutory sick pay increases from £81.60 to £85.85 per week.

Clarification of “independent adviser” for compromise agreements Since the Equality Act 2010 came into force there has been uncertainty as to whether it excludes an employee’s representative from being an independent adviser for the purposes of properly executing the compromise agreement (to validly compromise the employee’s statutory employment claims).

A new statutory order will come into force on 6 April 2012 confirming that an employee’s representative can be an independent adviser for this purpose.