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Employment Legislation Changes 2013

We all know how challenging it is to keep on top of legislation and with the government imposing changes to Employment Law in both April and October this can prove a real headache for businesses.

The government had radical plans for this April with lengthy consultations taking place on a number of issues. However deadlines were not met and therefore some of the most drastic plans, for example Employee Shareholder Contracts, have been deferred until summer 2013 for further consideration.

Set out below are a round up of the changes which took place in April;

Redundancy consultations

The consultation period for collective redundancies involving 100 or more employees has reduced from 90 to 45 days.

Increase in Statutory sick pay

Statutory sick pay has increased from £85.85 to £86.70 per week from the 6 April 2013.

Family friendly payments increased

The standard rates for statutory maternity, adoption and paternity pay have increased from £135.45 to £136.78 per week from the 7 April 2013.

Other changes which have been pushed back from April until the Summer include;

Whistle blowing

Legislation was introduced to protect employees who have blown the whistle on anything that their employers might have been doing which was not in the public interest. This is sensible as it allowed employees to highlight dangerous practices without any fear of retribution from their employer. If they can prove that they have been prejudiced against in these circumstances the awards are unlimited.

This has been abused in certain instances in that employees have complained about elements of their own personal employment contracts or working conditions and then rather than seek a resolution under the grievance procedure they claim that this is whistle blowing. This was not the spirit of the legislation and the intention is to close the loophole by making it clear that whistle blowing protection only relates to matters raised that are in the general public interest.

Unfair dismissal

This summer will see an improvement for employers with a cap of either one years loss of earnings or £74,200 (which ever is the lower) being placed on the compensatory awards for unfair dismissals. Combined with the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees for issuing proceedings this could have a real impact on future claims.

Settlement agreements

Summer 2013 may see a widening of the without prejudice conversation which should make discussions about entering into compromise agreements easier. It remains to be seen how helpful this will be to businesses as you may well hear these conversations replayed back to you in tribunal if employees can prove they were placed under undue pressure or discriminated against.

Employee share-holder contracts

The Government had intended to introduce a new type of employment contract, which will see the employee waive certain employment rights in return for an allotment of shares (minimum £2,000) in the business. Rights that may be waived include right to unfair dismissal claims, rights to statutory redundancy payment etc. This proposal has initially been rejected by the House of Lords so we are waiting to see if a revised proposal will be issued or if the idea will be scrapped all together.

For more information on these changes or any other HR issue please contact the employment team at ProAktive on 0114 243 9914.

By Louise Addison

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