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Employment Law changes for 2013

Significant changes have been recently made to employment law, many of which will come into effect during 2013. Employers and employees should keep abreast of developments to ensure that they remain up to date in respect of their rights and obligations.

Employment Tribunals

Major changes are expected for the Employment Tribunal system in 2013 when the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill 2012-13 comes into force. The system has already been subject to a number of alterations since 6 April 2012 such as allowing unfair dismissal hearings to be heard by a single judge.

In the summer of 2013, claimant fees will be required to initiate employment tribunal proceedings for the first time in an attempt to discourage weaker claims. Other changes will aim to make the procedures more efficient; for example, there will be a mandatory requirement for claims to be initially submitted to ACAS for conciliation.

Various recommendations of the former president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal may also be introduced in 2013. We will update as these become clearer...

Employment Law Changes - February - Tribunal Awards and Redundancy

The European Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2012 increased the cap on tribunal awards and statutory redundancy. Claims made following statutory redundancy on or after 1 February will benefit from rises of the statutory weekly pay, from £430 to £450.

The maximum compensation that can be awarded as a consequence of unfair dismissal has risen from £72,300 to £74,200.

Businesses planning redundancy should adjust their financial planning accordingly.

Employment Law Changes in March - Parental Leave and Equality

Changes in relation to the European Parental Leave Directive will increase unpaid parental leave from 8 March. Any employee who is a parent will be entitled to take 18 weeks unpaid leave, increased from 13 weeks, until their child's fifth birthday.

Controversial repeals are to be made to the Equality Act 2010 in March with the aim of removing some of the perceived impracticalities and bureaucratic burdens placed upon employers. Among other things, it will repeal an employer's liability for third party harassment; though employers are advised to continue to treat any employee complaints with appropriate diligence.

Employment Law Changes in April - Statutory Pay, Employee Shareholders, Collective Redundancy and Whistleblowers

Weekly maternity pay will rise from £135.45 to £136.76 and statutory sick pay will increase from £85.85 to £86.70 in April.

The creation of the employee shareholder classification (previously employee owners), aimed at encouraging mid-sized businesses to recruit staff, will also be implemented in April. Notably, employers will be able to offer between £2,000 and £50,000 of company shares (exempt from Capital Gains Tax) in exchange for employment rights such as unfair dismissal and redundancy.

Changes to collective redundancy will mean that companies seeking to dismiss in excess of 100 employees within a 90-day period will be required to initiate a consultation period a minimum of 45 days before the first dismissal, reduced from the previous minimum of 90 days.

Government plans with respect to whistle-blowers are also due to take effect, narrowing the types of disclosure that will fall within "public interest" and therefore potentially reducing the scope for employee claims.

Autumn 2013

Following a consultation on TUPE, expected to close on 11 April, the ‘service change provisions' relating to in-sourcing, outsourcing and re-tendering may be abolished later in 2013. This may make it easier to dismiss transferring employees and make contractual revisions, though these developments should be monitored closely.

Useful Links

The following links may be useful if you need more information.