A variety of employment law reforms came into force in April 2012. The key reforms include:
- An increase in the qualifying period required to bring a claim of unfair dismissal or request a written statement of reasons for dismissal to 2 years for those starting a new job on or after 6 April 2012. For employees whose employment started before 6 April 2012 they will remain subject to a 1 year qualifying period.
- An increase in statutory sick pay from £81.60 to £85.85.
- An increase in statutory maternity, paternity additional paternity, adoption and maternity allowance from £128.73 to £135.45 per week.
- A change to the immigration laws including limiting the stay of temporary Tier 2 migrants to a maximum of 6 years and removing the ability of overseas domestic workers to change employer.
The Government has also announced a raft of proposed changes to the Equality Act 2010 (EqA).
The measures announced include:
- Consultation on repealing employers’ liability for third party harassment under S.40 EqA. The Government argues that employees are already adequately protected against such behaviour by employers’ common law duty to take reasonable care of the safety of their employees and through other legislative provisions.
- Consultation on repealing employment tribunals’ power in S. 124(3) EqA to make recommendations that apply to all an employer’s staff. The power was introduced into the EqA but the Government believes that the power is unlikely to serve a practical purpose or to be an appropriate or effective legal remedy.
- Consultation on repealing S.138 EqA, which contains the statutory discrimination questionnaire procedure. The Government believes that this procedure has failed to increase pre-hearing settlements and reduce tribunal workloads, and has instead created burdens and risks for employers.
- Reviewing the operation of the S.149 EqA Public Sector equality duty that requires public bodies to consider, among other things, the impact of their decisions on those who share a relevant protected characteristic such as sex or race.
- Repealing the socio-economic duty contained in S.1 EqA, which would (if it had been brought into force) have obliged public bodies to have regard to the desirability of exercising their functions so as to reduce the outcome of inequalities which result from socio-economic disadvantage.
The two consultations issued by the Government Equalities Office, ‘Equality Act 2010: consultation on repeal of two enforcement provisions’ and ‘Equality Act 2010: consultation on employer liability for harassment of employees by third parties’, close on 7 August 2012.