With next month fast approaching, employers should be aware of new legislative changes set to come into effect at the beginning of the new tax year on April 6.
The early conciliation regime will introduce a new statutory requirement for prospective claimants seeking to bring a tribunal claim to first contact Acas, so that an attempt at conciliation can be made.
This comes into effect partly on April 6 but then fully a month later on May 6. Under the terms of the regime, where Acas concludes that a settlement is not possible, or where the prescribed period expires without a settlement having been reached, it will issue an early conciliation certificate to the prospective claimant, who will then be able to launch tribunal proceedings.
In addition to this, Section 138 of the Equality Act 2010, or the discrimination questionnaire procedure, will be repealed on April 6. This will mean that provisions enabling an individual to obtain information from the employer about discrimination and for information to be used as evidence in tribunal proceedings will no longer apply.
From this date, 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. However, in most cases, the penalty will be 50 per cent of the amount of any award that the tribunal has made against the employer.
Meanwhile, the limit on the amount of compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase on April 6, while other related changes coming into effect on the same day 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.
Outside this topic, other changes include an increase in the rate of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay, as well as a rise in the standard rate of statutory sick pay.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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