There are a number of key changes that came into force on 6 April 2014. We have summarised the main legislative changes below.
Acas Early Conciliation Scheme (EC)
This will apply to most Employment Tribunal claims. It requires Claimants to notify Acas of their dispute before bringing a claim. Following notification they will be offered pre-claim early conciliation for a period of one month. If this is unsuccessful or refused by either party the Claimant will then be able to go ahead and present their claim to the Tribunal. Tribunal claims will not be accepted unless the complaint has been referred to Acas and a conciliation certificate issued.
EC compliance will become mandatory for claims presented on or after 6 May 2014. Transitional provisions will cover the period between 6 April – 5 May, during which time EC will be available but not mandatory.
Increase in Tribunal Fees for some Claims
The following claims have been re-classified as ‘Type B’ claims which attract higher fees (£250 issue fee and £950 hearing fee for a single Claimant):
- Equal pay.
- Failure to inform or consult under TUPE.
- Sex equality in pension schemes.
- Failure to allow compensatory rest under the Working Time Regulations 1998.
- Breach of the right to request time off for training.
Financial Penalties for Employers who lose at Tribunal
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (Commencement No. 5, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Order 2014 brought into force financial penalties for employers found to have breached a Claimant’s employment rights if the Tribunal considers that the breach had ‘one or more aggravating features’.
Increase in Statutory Payments
Several statutory payments have been increased. Specifically the weekly rate of statutory sick pay increased from £86.70 to £87.55, and statutory maternity pay, ordinary and additional paternity pay, and adoption pay increased from £136.78 to £138.18 a week.
Increase in Statutory Compensation Limits
The limit applying to certain awards of Employment Tribunals, and other amounts payable under employment legislation have been increased. Details of the new limits are provided in the table below.
In cases which involve dismissal, the new figures will only apply where the effective date of termination is on or after 6 April 2014.
|Compensation limit||Current figure||From 6 April 2014|
|Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal||£74,200||£76,574|
|Minimum basic award for certain unfair dismissals (dismissals for reasons of trade union membership or activities, health and safety duties, pension scheme trustee duties or acting as an employee representative)||£5,500||£5,676|
|Maximum limit on a week’s pay||£450||£464|
Abolition of statutory sick pay percentage threshold schemes
The Percentage Threshold Scheme enabled employers to reclaim statutory sick pay from HMRC, where the total statutory sick pay paid in a month exceeded 13% of their Class 1 National Insurance contributions for that month. This scheme will be revoked, with effect from 6 April 2014, by The Statutory Sick Pay Percentage Threshold (Revocations, Transitional and Saving Provisions) (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) Order 2014 .Transitional provisions will allow employers up until 6 April 2016 to recover statutory sick pay for days of incapacity occurring before 6 April 2014.
Abolition of Statutory Discrimination Questionnaires
Section 66 of ERRA 2013 has abolished statutory discrimination questionnaires for acts of discrimination occurring on or after 6 April 2014.
The Explanatory Notes to ERRA 2013 state that a complainant may still ask questions of its employer and a court or Tribunal may still draw adverse inferences from an employers’ refusal to respond. Acas has published good practice guidance on how employers should deal with questions regarding discrimination in the workplace.
For more information on any of the above changes please contact the Employment Team.