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Changes in Employment Law take effect

04 April 2014

On 6 April, the following changes in employment law rights took effect:-

  1. Early conciliation through ACAS came into force and the dedicated ACAS website (https://ec.acas.org.uk) and telephone line (0300 123 1122) are up and running.
  2. Employment Tribunals now have power to order employers who lose Employment Tribunal cases to pay a penalty of between £100 and £5,000 to the Government,  on top of any compensation awarded to the Claimant.
  3. The limit on the amount of weekly pay taken into consideration for statutory redundancy pay , the basic award of compensation for unfair dismissal and some other rights, increases to £464 (from £450).
  4. Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increases to £138.18 a week.

Employers have the option of referring a potential case to ACAS for early conciliation, rather than having to wait for an employee to start the process before filing a Tribunal complaint. Anyway, wherever they have a dispute with an employee which could lead to a legal case, they need now to be as prepared to receive a conciliation call from ACAS as a letter before claim from a solicitor or trade union. They should also note that ACAS-conciliated settlements, as well as “settlement agreements”, will avoid the risk of having to pay the penalty which Tribunals can award.

The next scheduled change is on 30 June 2014, when the changes to the right to request flexible working come into effect.

Meantime the row over the high charges for bringing Employment Tribunal cases continues, even after the trade union Unison lost its court battle to stop the fees coming in. With the 79% fall in the number of case being filed, the Government has said it will consider lowering Tribunal fees as part of a review. The Professor of English Law at the University of Oxford has also weighed into the debate, saying that Tribunal fees are 4 times higher than they ought to be compared with County Court fees. But that was before the Government announced increases of up to 81% in County Court fees from 22 April 2014, and that will significantly reduce the differential.