I have summarised below the main changes to employment law that took place on 1 and 6 April 2012.
Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay
1. The standard rates of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increase from £128.73 to £135.45 per week. The weekly earnings threshold for these payments rose from £102 to £107.
2. Maternity allowance increased from £124.88 to £135.45, with the earnings threshold remaining at £30.
Statutory Sick Pay
The standard rate of statutory sick pay increases from £81.60 to £85.85 per week.
The Apprenticeships (Form of Apprenticeship Agreement) Regulations 2012 prescribe the form of the apprenticeship agreement between an apprentice and an employer in England and Wales under s.32 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009.
The Regulations state that apprenticeship agreements entered into under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 must contain the basic terms of employment required to be given to employees under section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. This can be in the form of a written statement of particulars of employment, a written contract of employment or a letter of engagement.
The apprenticeship agreement must also include a statement of the skill, trade or occupation for which the apprentice is being trained under the relevant apprenticeship framework.
Under section 35 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, an apprenticeship agreement entered into under the Act has the status of a contract of service and not a contract of apprenticeship.
1. Deposit orders. The amount of deposit order an employment tribunal will be able to order a party to pay as a condition to continuing with tribunal proceedings has increased from £500 to £1,000.
2. Costs awards. The maximum amount of costs an employment tribunal can award in favour of a legally represented party (without referring the case to the county court for detailed assessment) has increased from £10,000 to £20,000.
3. Witness expenses. Employment tribunals now have the power to order parties to bear the costs of witness attendance; the party who loses the case will have to reimburse the successful party for any such costs that have already been paid out.
The unfair dismissal qualifying period has increase from one to two years.
Employees whose employment commenced on or after 6 April 2012 will need two years’ service before accruing the right to claim unfair dismissal or becoming entitled to written reasons for dismissal.
The qualifying period will continue to be one year for those employees whose employment commenced before 6 April 2012.
If you have any concerns about these changes and how they will affect your business, or want to discuss anything else employment-related, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.