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Employment law New Year’s resolutions

BY Heather Kemmett
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

Just a few weeks of 2012 left folks- time to start planning those New Year’s resolutions! We thought we’d get a head start this year and take a look at the government’s employment law resolutions for the year ahead.

Here’s a roundup of everything you need to know about changes to employment law in 2013. 

Tribunal fees will be introduced from summer 2013.  The current proposals are that Claimants will pay a fee to lodge their claim (either £160 or £250) and pay a further fee (either £230 or £950) if the claim proceeds to a hearing.  The two-tier fee structure will depend on the complexity of the case and it is expected that low earners will be exempt from fees. 

Owner-employee contracts are set to be introduced in 2013.  The Chancellor announced in early December that details would be published in the 2013 budget.  The controversial plans will give employers the opportunity to give staff between £2k and £50k of shares in exchange for the employee sacrificing certain employment rights, notably the right to claim unfair dismissal and request flexible working. 

Parental leave for parents following the birth or adoption of a child to increase from three to four months from March 2013. 

Tribunal award limits will rise from 1st February 2013.  The maximum limit on a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating a basic award for unfair dismissal or a redundancy payment will increase from £430 to £450.  In addition, the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase from £72,300 to £74,200. 

Statutory payments will rise by 1% a year for three years from April 2013.  This will affect statutory sick pay, statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay. 

Government consultation on TUPE is due to take place at some point in 2013, as announced in the Chancellor’s autumn statement.  

Settlement agreements may be introduced during the course of 2013.  The government has watered down its plans and the new agreements will essentially be compromise agreements under another name. 

Protected conversations will be the subject of consultation in 2013.  The government’s original plans were to introduce a vehicle through which employers could have difficult conversations from employers without fear that employees would raise court action.  The detail on these controversial plans has been scant, although it is hoped that the consultation will stimulate further specification.  

Third party harassment provisions in the Equality Act will be scrapped if the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill comes into force.  Presently employers may be liable when their employee is harassed by a third party. 

A Rapid Resolution Scheme may be introduced, again under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.  The idea of having a “legal officer” determine employment cases as an alternative to tribunal action was mooted in the Government’s response to the consultation on resolving workplace disputes. 

Phew! It’s going to be a busy year!

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