New Employment Legislation is in…..
Changes to employment tribunal procedure and the usual statutory rate changes came into effect on or after 6 April 2014.
Individuals who wish to bring a claim at an employment tribunal from 6 May will have to inform Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). Instead of filling in an ET1 form and sending it to the tribunal service. This procedural change requires Acas to attempt to offer conciliation, which will involve active assistance to bring the parties to an agreement. Early conciliation is not mandatory and once Acas has been informed of an intention to claim, the claimant is not required to enter into a conciliation process. The employer is also not obliged to enter into the process.
If conciliation isn’t viable or, is attempted but, is unsuccessful the individual can continue with his or her tribunal claim.
Employment tribunals will also be given the power to order employers who lose a claim against them to pay a fine to the exchequer. The penalty will be 50% of the award made to the claimant, with a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000. This applies to any claims made on or after 6th April.
Statutory discrimination questions
Another change is the abolition of the statutory discrimination questionnaire that allows individuals to ask their employer for a response to questions on potential discriminatory behaviour.
This questionnaire posed a series of questions which employers could choose to answer or not. Any failure, unreasonable delay or evasive answers could be relied on as evidence in the claim. Acas has now issued guidance explaining how instead ‘informal’ questions may be asked of employers once the statutory questionnaires have been abolished. This guidance notes that employers will continue to be under no legal obligation to answer questions. However, a tribunal or court will still be able to look at whether and how questions have been answered
Statutory rate changes
Statutory sick pay rises to £87.55 from 6th April and statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay also increase to £138.18 per week.
The maximum tribunal award in unfair dismissal cases is the lesser of 52 weeks’ pay, or an overall cap that has risen from £74,200 to £76,754.
Binder Bansel, Head of Employment