Several employment law changes now coming into force

Several new employment regulations affecting businesses and their employees have come into force in April and May.

This is a brief summary of the main points:

ACAS and Tribunal claims

Employees wishing to bring claims before the Employment Tribunal must first contact ACAS, which will offer a conciliation service. The measure, effective from 6 May, is designed to help the claimants and employers reach an agreement without having to go to a tribunal. 

Penalties for employers

Employers may now face new financial penalties if they breach a worker’s employment rights. The maximum penalty is £5,000, with a 50% discount for paying promptly.

However, the money is only payable if the Employment Tribunal considers that there has been an aggravating feature in the infringement.

Statutory Sick Pay

Statutory Sick Pay is now set at £87.55 a week. The lower rate of Statutory Maternity Pay increases to £138.18 a week.

Redundancy and Unfair Dismissal Payments

The statutory week’s pay for redundancy and related purposes is limited at £464. The statutory guarantee payment relating to lay-offs or short-time working is £25 a day.

The maximum compensation for unfair dismissal is £76,574. However, in most cases, 52 weeks’ gross pay will apply if that is lower.

National Minimum Wage

Looking towards later in the year, the new National Minimum Wage figures have been set.

The rates from 1 October 2014, as recommended by the Low Pay Commission, will be:

a 19p (3%) increase in the adult rate (from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour)
a 10p (2%) increase in the rate for 18 to 20 year olds (from £5.03 to £5.13 per hour)
a 7p (2%) increase in the rate for 16 to 17 year olds (from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour)
a 5p (2%) increase in the rate for apprentices (from £2.68 to £2.73 per hour)

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