April 2014 employment law changes – a six-point checklist

April 2014 legal changes for employers

Every spring, along with warmer weather and lighter evenings, comes the latest instalment of legislative change for employers and 2014 is no different. Early conciliation is the headline law change, but are you prepared for the others? We provide a six-point employment law checklist.

1. Early conciliation comes into force

The early conciliation regime is introduced on 6 April 2014 (in part, and fully on 6 May). The regime introduces a new statutory requirement for prospective claimants seeking to bring a tribunal claim first to contact Acas so that an attempt at conciliation can be made. Where Acas concludes that a settlement is not possible, or the prescribed period expires without a settlement being reached, it will issue an early conciliation certificate to the prospective claimant, who will then be able to commence tribunal proceedings.

2. Discrimination questionnaire procedure repealed

Section 138 of the Equality Act 2010 is repealed on 6 April 2014, with the effect that provisions enabling an individual to obtain information from the employer about discrimination and for information to be used as evidence in tribunal proceedings no longer apply.

3. Financial penalties imposed on employers that breach employment rights

From 6 April 2014, tribunals will have the power to order employers that have breached workers’ rights to pay a financial penalty of between £100 and £5,000 where the breach has one or more aggravating features. The penalty will be, in most cases, 50% of the amount of any award that the tribunal has made against the employer.

4. Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases

Also from 6 April 2014, the limit on the amount of the compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases. Other changes coming into force on the same date include an increase in the maximum amount of “a week’s pay” for the purposes of calculating a basic or additional award of compensation for unfair dismissal or a redundancy payment, and an increase in the maximum amount of a guarantee payment payable to an employee in respect of any workless day.

5. Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increase

From 6 April 2014, the rate of statutory maternity pay, ordinary and additional statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay increases.

6. Statutory sick pay

From 6 April 2014, the standard rate of statutory sick pay increases. In addition, the percentage threshold scheme, under which employers may recover some of the statutory sick pay paid to their employees, will be abolished with effect from 6 April 2014. However, under transitional provisions, employers will continue to be able to recover statutory sick pay until 6 April 2016 for days of incapacity falling prior to 6 April 2014.

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