Every April in the UK, the Government puts in place the latest updates to the law to coincide with the new tax year. This year is no exception, but it can be tricky to understand how these changes affect your business, so this article will explain each of the more prominent changes in more detail. You can find more information and a full list of changes either at the DirectGov or Business Link websites.
The right to maternity, paternity or adoption pay is statutory for all individuals under a contract of employment. By refusing to pay or dismissing an individual due to them wanting to exercise this right you are breaking the law. As of 6th April 2012 the amount that is payable per week for an employee taking maternity, paternity or adoption pay will rise from £128.73 to £135.45.
It is also important to remember 2011’s change which means that fathers on paternity leave may take more time if the mother chooses to return to work before her maternity leave is up – up to 26 weeks.
Statutory Sick Pay
This is another statutory right for any employee in the UK. As of 6th April 2012, this amount will also increase from £81.60 to £85.85 per week.
Basic state pension will also be increased from £102.15 to £107.45 per week as of 9th April 2012.
Employees have the right to take a case to an employment tribunal where they feel that they have been unfairly dismissed. The 6th April 2012 sees a rather controversial change to this procedure as announced by George Osborne in October 2011. Currently, an employee has the right to take a case to Employment Tribunal if they have been employed by the company for a minimum period of 1 year. The change in 2012 will see this qualifying period extended to 2 years (this does not affect your right to appeal should you be dismissed for an automatically unfair reason).
This has been met with some unease as employees are worried that even after showing a commitment to a company for a long period of time, there may still be less job security than previously. However, Mr Osborne has said that this change is to encourage more employers to take on new team members in a time where they might be more reluctant to do so.
In addition, employees looking to take a case to Employment Tribunal must pay a fee of £250 and a further £1000 should the case go to a hearing. This is to prevent cases that are unlikely to succeed being taken forward – wasting valuable time and money. However, it could also mean that employees that earn less are unable to make a claim where they may need to.
This change only applies to employees beginning their contracts on or after 6th April 2012 and doesn’t affect your right to request a letter detailing reasons for dismissal which is still available after 1 year.
If you’re worried about any of the changes to employment law this year or need more information, you can find valuable information at both DirectGov and Business Link, or you can contact your local citizens advice bureau.