Annual Increase in Tribunal Awards
The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2018 has been laid before parliament, coming into force on 6 April 2018. It contains the normal annual increases to maximum and minimum tribunal awards.Key increases are:-
- maximum week’s pay (for redundancy payments and the unfair dismissal basic award): £508 (currently £489)
- maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal: £83,682 (currently £80,541)
Compensation limits 6 April 2018
The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2018 SI 2018/194 has been made and will increase the compensation limits and minimum awards that are payable under employment legislation from 6 April 2018. The limit on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise from £80,541 to £83,682; the limit on a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating, among other things, statutory redundancy payments and the basic award for unfair dismissal, will increase from £489 to £508; guarantee pay will increase from £27 to £28 per day; and the minimum basic award in cases where a dismissal is unfair by virtue of health and safety, employee representative, trade union, or occupational pension trustee reasons will increase from £5,970 to £6,203.
The new rates take effect where the ‘appropriate date’ for the cause of action (such as the date of termination in an unfair dismissal claim) falls on or after 6 April 2018. Where the appropriate date falls before 6 April, the old limits will still apply, irrespective of the date on which compensation is awarded.
Increase in compensation payments 2016
BIS has made The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2016, containing the annual increases in compensation payments, before Parliament.
It applies to dismissals (or detriments, etc) occurring on or after 6 April 2016.
The main changes are:-
- a week’s pay – £479 (currently £475)
- maximum compensatory award – £78,962 (currently £78,335)
Shared parental leave
On 5 October 2015 it was announced that the government intends to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents. The government hopes that the planned change will increase flexibility and choice in parental leave arrangements and support working parents with the costs of childcare during the first year of a child’s life. The government intends to consult on the issue in the first half of next year, with the legislation expected to come into force sometime in 2018.
Research by the government suggests that nearly 2 million grandparents have given up work, reduced their hours or have taken time off work to help their families who struggle with the costs of childcare. The government estimates that grandparents are contributing as much as £8 million each year in childcare costs. The government states that ‘more than half of mothers rely on grandparents for childcare when they first go back to work after maternity leave, and over 60 per cent of working grandparents with grandchildren aged under 16 provide some childcare’.
Did you find our post ‘Grandparents eligible for shared parental leave and Pay in 2018’ useful? Read more on Shared parental leave here
Employment Tribunal Fees
From 29 July anyone wishing to make a claim in the Employment Tribunal or lodging an appeal in the EAT will need to pay a fee, unless they are able to obtain an exemption.
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
On 1 December 2012, the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) merged to form the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
The following changes to terminology have resulted:
- A standard CRB check has become a standard DBS check.
- An enhanced CRB check has become an enhanced DBS check.
- An enhanced CRB check with Barred List check has become an enhanced check for regulated activity.
Key dates relevant to the operation of the new service include:
- Since 28 March 2013, only DBS application forms have been processed.
- Since 1 December 2012, DBS certificates have been issued for all completed criminal record checks. However, CRB certificates that had already been issued remain valid.
DBS has announced that the new “Update Service” will be launched this summer. This new service will enable individuals to register once for a DBS check which will then be automatically updated and available for organisations to check.
Harassment at Work. Employer Guide
There has been much news publicity recently surrounding harassment, particularly on the grounds of disability and sex. According to Macmillan Cancer Support there has been an increased number of employees with cancer feeling discriminated when they return to work.
This is supported by a YouGov survey that shows 37% of employees experience discrimination at work after they have had cancer, with 9% leaving and 13% claiming their employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments. As cancer is classed as a disability, companies need to ensure that they act legally when dealing with such employees.
Also sharing the headlines have been claims of sexual harassment, often with such conduct being ignored by companies and other work colleagues. An employer will often be held responsible for the discriminatory actions of its employees and may also be responsible for discrimination by external bodies such as recruitment agencies if they are acting with the employer’s authority. It is therefore important for an employer to investigate any such allegations that arise and if necessary take the appropriate remedial action.
What is harassment?
Harassment involves unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an offensive, intimidating or hostile environment. It is discriminatory if it is related to the following protected characteristics:
- Race (including ethnic or national origin, nationality and colour).
Why is it important for employers to know about discrimination law?
Discrimination is governed by the Equality Act 2010; its’ purpose is to ensure equality of opportunity at work, to protect employees’ dignity and to ensure that complaints can be raised without fear of reprisal.
Damaging publicity and loss of staff morale
Allegations of discrimination or harassment are likely to create bad publicity for an employer; an Employment Tribunal hearing is held in public, often with the press in attendance in the hope of gathering an interesting news story for publication in local, or even national, media. It is wiser to prevent a claim than to have to manage the consequential fallout after a claim has been made. Discrimination and harassment issues can be highly emotive, and the process may have a negative impact on employee morale.
High compensation payments and expensive litigation
There is no limit to the amount of compensation that an employee can be awarded by an Employment Tribunal in a successful discrimination case. A company also has to factor in the significant management time involved and legal costs, which are usually not recoverable in an Employment Tribunal.
Practical steps employers can take to reduce the risk of an Employment Tribunal claim:
- Provide staff with employment handbooks, including policies on equal opportunities and harassment, setting out what constitutes acceptable behaviour and what does not.
- Set up clear procedures for staff to raise concerns and complaints, and for dealing with complaints. Ensure discriminatory behaviour by staff is not tolerated and is dealt with through proper disciplinary measures.
- Review employment contracts, policies and employee share schemes to ensure they comply with the law.
- Make reasonable adjustments where this will alleviate difficulties suffered by a disabled employee in the workplace.
- Accommodate workers’ different cultures and religious beliefs, if possible.
- Try to accommodate requests for family-friendly hours by employees with childcare or other family commitments, unless refusal is justified.
- Carry out equal opportunities monitoring but do not use the forms as part of recruitment or other decision-making. Data from the forms should be aggregated and anonymised.
Employee shareholders rejected
The House of Lords has again voted to reject the proposed Employee Shareholder status set out in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill.
The government is determined to press ahead with this scheme and has published some concessions in the hope that the House of Lords will agree; these are:
- a provision that the employee cannot accept the offer within seven days of it being made;
- a written statement setting out the rights that the employee is giving up; and
- a written statement setting out the details of the shares being offered (including whether they are voting or non-voting shares, whether they carry a dividend, and whether they carry a right to a share in the company’s assets if it is wound-up and whether pre-emption rights are excluded).
The government had made some earlier concessions to the original proposals:-
- a jobseeker who refuses a job on an employee shareholder basis will not automatically forfeit their unemployment benefits; and
- the first £2,000 of shares given to the employee will not attract income tax.
The government is consulting until 11 April 2013 on a change to how employment agencies and employment businesses are regulated. The aim is to simplify the current regulations while still maintaining safeguards for work-seekers and hirers. The government proposes to retain, for example, the restriction on charging up-front fees to work-seekers and on charging unreasonable transfer fees to hirers. However, it considers that the recruitment sector should have greater freedom to self-regulate its conduct than under the current regime.
TUPE: consultation on changes
There is currently consultation on a number of proposed changes to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (“TUPE”) to take effect from October 2013. The most significant is the repeal of the regulations relating to “service provision changes”.
Other proposals include:
No obligation to provide employee liability information, but transferors would have to disclose information to the transferee to aid the information and consultation process.
Amending the provisions restricting changes to terms, giving protection against dismissal and giving the right to resign in response to a substantial change in working conditions, in each case to reflect the wording of the underlying Directive and/or ECJ case law more closely.
Providing that “entailing changes in the workforce” includes changes to the workforce’s location.
Enabling the transferee to consult with the transferring employees on collective redundancies prior to the transfer.