The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Employment law: Employers should be ready for major changes in 2012

The next twelve months will see several major changes in employment law and businesses are being advised to get acquainted with these changes, or risk falling foul of new legislation in 2012. Here is a chronological guide to some of the major changes:

February

On the 1st of the month the maximum weekly pay used to calculate statutory redundancy will increase from £400 to £430, and the maximum unfair dismissal compensation award will increase from £68,400 to £72,300.

April

On 1 April the standard rate for statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay will increase from £128.73 to £135.45 per week.

6 April 2012 sees an increase in statutory sick pay from £81.60 to £85.65 per week. That date also sees a major change in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims. At present, an employee must have been in their job for at least one year before they can bring a claim, but from 6 April 2012 this qualifying period will be extended to two years. The aim of this change is to give employers and employees more time to resolve difficulties outside of the employment tribunal process. This change will not affect so called 'day one' rights, such as the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of race, gender or sexuality.

There will also be wholesale changes to the Employment Tribunal process coming into force on 6 April 2012, including:

  • Increasing the maximum deposit order for a case to proceed from £500 to £1,000
  • Increasing the maximum award for costs to a legally represented party from £10,000 to £20,000
  • Allowing judges to sit alone in unfair dismissal cases, unless the judge directs otherwise
  • Allowing witness statements to be taken 'as read' unless the judge directs otherwise

October

On 1 October 2012 businesses with 50 or more employees will become legally obliged to automatically enrol eligible employees into a qualifying workplace pension scheme, or the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST). Eligible employees:

  • Are at least 22 years of age but younger than State Pension age
  • Earn over £7,475 per annum
  • Are not already in a suitable pension scheme

Related links:

Read more on the story (Mulberry Finch)

Unfair dismissal qualifying period (Directgov)

Find local employment solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)