Key Employment Law Changes for 2014

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Happy New Year and welcome back to work.

We hope you’re suitably refreshed and ready for action.  We don’t want to depress you any more than you may be already but the road ahead is laden with legislation changes, case updates, clarifications, repealed provisions, new rules, increased powers and statutory rates. We have picked out the key points for you below. Hold on to your hats, this year looks likely to be a busy one.

We thought giving you some notes for your diary may help.

31 January 2014

  • Changes to TUPE 2006 – the implementation date for several important changes has now been confirmed as 31 January 2014…you have been warned!
  • Web training – We will be recording a web based training session to help prepare for the changes before the end of the month.  Watch this space for further details.

April 2014

  • Unfair dismissal compensatory awards – The annual change to tribunal compensatory awards will be implemented during April 2014 (instead of February). Watch this space for the new rates.
  • Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increases from £136.78 to £138.18 per week.
  • Statutory sick pay increases from £86.70 to £87.55 per week.
  • Early ACAS conciliation– Claimants will need to submit details of their claim to ACAS before lodging a claim with the tribunal.  If a party refuses to participate or the conciliation is unsuccessful, they will then be able to proceed with their claim.  A one month time limit for conciliation will be imposed and changes will be made to the limitation periods to build in time for early conciliation. More details to follow.
  • Additional financial penalty – If an employer loses a claim and the behaviour which led to the breach can be said to have one or more “aggravating features” (e.g. negligence or malice) an ET can impose a penalty of up to £5,000 in addition to any compensation payable. The award will be payable to the tribunal.

Spring 2014

  • Discrimination Questionnaires repealed – The provisions in the Equality Act which relate to the discrimination questionnaire will be removed and replaced with an informal process and new ACAS guidance.
  • Flexible working for all – The right will be extended to all employees with more than 26 weeks’ continuous service and the statutory procedure will be dismantled to allow requests to be considered in a reasonable manner, within a reasonable timeframe.  Look out for the ACAS guidance.

October 2014

  • Equal pay audit – ETs will have power in circumstances of a clear breach of the equal pay provision to order the employer to undertake an audit

Expected during 2014

  • Occupational health assistance – A new Health and Work Advisory and Assessment Service is to be introduced providing state funded occupational health assessments for employees who are absent for more than 4 weeks.

During 2014 / 2015

  • Auto-enrolment pensions – more and more employers will be affected by the auto-enrolment provisions. Employers with between 350 and 499 employees were expected to comply by the start of 2014. Employers with 50 or more employees will be affected by the start of 2015.

Expected during 2015

  • Shared parental leave – The mother’s remaining 50 weeks’ maternity leave and 37 weeks’ SMP (after compulsory 2 weeks’ leave) can be shared with the father as flexible parental leave (to be introduced in 2014 but implemented in 2015).
  • Extended parental leave – Employees will be entitled to take unpaid parental leave up to their child’s 18th birthday (extended from 5th birthday).

To be confirmed…

  • Caste discrimination to be added to the Equality Act 2010 – This will be included within the definition of race and discrimination on the grounds of this protected characteristic will be outlawed.

Any questions?

If you have any questions on any of the above matters please contact any member of the Employment Team on 0191 211 7777.