What is changing on 6 April?
Pre-claim Acas conciliation
Pre-claim Acas conciliation will be available from 6 April, and mandatory from 6 May. Before raising a tribunal claim, prospective claimants will need to submit an ‘early conciliation form’ to ACAS. Although participation is voluntary, employers should give thought now to how they will respond to contact from ACAS.
Financial penalties for losing employers
Employment tribunals will have the power to impose a financial penalty on an employer, in addition to making a compensatory award in favour of a claimant, where the employer has lost the tribunal claim; the employer’s breach had ‘one or more aggravating features’; and the tribunal decides to exercise its discretion to impose the penalty. The penalty must be 50% of the compensatory award, subject to a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5000, and will be reduced by 50% if paid within 21 days. It is payable to the Secretary of State, not the employee.
Abolition of discrimination questionnaires
The statutory discrimination and equal pay questionnaire procedure is being abolished. Instead the government is promoting an informal approach to the disclosure of information via new ACAS guidance. As is currently the case in relation to statutory questionnaires, there will be no legal obligation to answer questions but a tribunal will be able to look at whether and how questions have been answered as a contributory factor in making its overall decision in a discrimination claim.
Increase to employment tribunal fees.
The Courts and Tribunals Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2014 will re-categorise the following claims as “Type B” claims: equal pay; failure to inform and consult under TUPE; failure to allow compensatory rest under the Working Time Regulations; breach of the right to request time off for training; and sex equality in pension schemes. This means that these claims will attract higher fees (£250 issue fee and £950 hearing fee).
Abolition of SSP record-keeping obligations and the Percentage Threshold Scheme
The Statutory Sick Pay record-keeping requirements will be abolished in favour of giving employers the discretion to use a system which suits them. The Percentage Threshold System which allows employers to reclaim SSP where it exceeds 13% of monthly Class 1 National Insurance liability is also expected to be abolished from 6 April.
Increases to rates and limits
- The limit on the amount of a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating, for example, statutory redundancy payments and the basic award will increase from £450 to £464;
- The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal goes up from £74,200 to £76,574, subject to the overall limit of one year’s salary;
- The minimum basic award in cases where the dismissal was unfair by virtue of health and safety, employee representative, trade union, or occupational pension trustee reasons will increase from £5,500 to £5,676;
- Guarantee payments will rise from £24.20 a day to £25 a day;
- Statutory sick pay will increase to £87.55 (from £86.70) and statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay to £138.18 (from £136.78).