Employment law and Employment Tribunal changes from 6 April 2014
On 6 April 2014 a raft of employment law changes came into force. These are explained in brief below:
- Changes to rates and compensatory awards in the Employment Tribunal
- ACAS Early Conciliation
- Abolition of statutory discrimination questionnaires
- Financial penalties for losing employers
- Increased penalties for employers employing illegal workers
Changes to rates and compensatory awards in the Employment Tribunal
The maximum compensatory award in unfair dismissal claims in the Employment Tribunal (where date of termination of employment is on or after 6 April 2014) has increased to £76,574 (or one year’s gross salary, whichever is lower), and the maximum basic award has increased to £13,920. Further, the figure used for calculating “a week’s pay” (for calculating the basic award and a statutory redundancy payment) also increases from £450 to £464.
ACAS Early Conciliation
Early conciliation with ACAS commences on a voluntary basis on 6 April 2014 and continues until 6 May 2014. From 6 May 2014 the early conciliation process becomes mandatory and all claimants must instigate the early conciliation process before issuing an ET1, although there is no obligation for either party to engage in the process (i.e. make or accept an offer of settlement).
Abolition of statutory discrimination questionnaires
As of 6 April 2014 there is no longer a statutory protocol enabling claimants to request pre-action disclosure as the legislation governing the use of the statutory discrimination questionnaire has now been repealed.
Financial penalties for losing employers
Employment Tribunals now have the power to order a losing employer to pay a financial penalty of between £100 and £5,000 to to the Secretary of State in cases presented on or after 6 April 2014 and where a case has “one or more aggravating features”. Unfortunately, there is no guidance on what is meant by “aggravating features” but the Government has noted that the Employment Tribunal would be encouraged to imposed penalties where the breach by the employer involved “unreasonable behaviour” (such as negligence or malice).
Increased penalties for employers employing illegal workers
If an employer is found to have employed an individual who does not have the right to work in the UK, it will now be liable to a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal employee (previously, the limit was £10,000), as well as a criminal penalty.