A number of changes to the law recently came into effect, and here are the most crucial.
- ACAS early conciliation becomes law. Involving ACAS in Employment Tribunal claims, and following a set process, came into force last week. It will be mandatory from 5 May 2014, so using the process is voluntary until then. Failure to follow the procedure could result in claims being disbarred. Time extensions are possible.
- Financial penalties for losing employers introduced. From 6 April a financial penalty is potentially payable by employers who lose Employment Tribunal cases. This will be between £100 and £5,000, and will be payable where there are ‘aggravating features’ such as past breaches, and breaches despite having a human resources department.
- Increase in tribunal fees. The higher fees of £250 to issue a claim, and £950 for a hearing, will apply to a wider range of cases. These include equal pay, failure to inform and consult under TUPE, failure to allow compensatory rest under the Working Time Regulations, and breach of the right to request time off for training.
- Abolition of statutory discrimination questionnaires. It will remain advisable to ask questions of employers in order to establish discrimination claims, which are notoriously difficult to prove. However, an informal process will need to be followed in future.
- Abolition of statutory sick pay repayments.
For sickness falling after 6 April 2014, employers will not be able to recover any statutory sick pay from HMRC.