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Employment Law - Changes to come for 2011

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This year will bring further changes to employment legislation and we take a look at the key changes to the law in this area which could affect your business in 2011.

BalancesIncrease in Compensation Limits

The limits on compensation in the Employment Tribunal will increase on 1 February. The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase to £68,400.00 from the current figure of £65,300.00. The maximum amount of a week’s pay, used to calculate statutory redundancy pay and other awards, will increase to £400.00 from £380.00. The new limits will apply where the effective date of termination is on or after 1 February.

Flexible Working Requests

It has been announced that the right to request flexible working will be extended to parents with children under 18 and will take effect from April 2011. This will extend the right to request flexible working which already applies to parents with children under 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled). It should also be noted that this right already exists for employees who are carers for adults aged 18 or over.

Increase In Statutory Payment Rates for 2011

Statutory maternity , paternity and adoption pay will increase to £128.73 whilst statutory sick pay will increase to £81.60, currently £79.15. The new rates will apply from 11 April.

Additional Statutory Paternity Leave

This right will come into force and affect parents whose babies are due on or after 3 April or (in relation to adoption) are notified of having being “matched” on or after this date. The right applies where the employee’s spouse, civil partner or partner has returned to work with some of their statutory maternity/adoption leave untaken. In other words, this will create the notion of shared maternity/paternity leave.

Phasing Out Of Default Retirement Age

As widely reported, the government plans to abolish the right of an employer to compel an employee to retire at aged 65. Currently, employers can force employees to retire at their normal retirement age (provided it is 65 or over) without fear of a tribunal claim of age discrimination or unfair dismissal provided that the employer follows certain prescribed retirement procedures.

If the proposals are implemented, there will be no general rules permitting retirement dismissals and normal age discrimination and unfair dismissal rules will apply.

Employees May Soon Have To Pay To Bring Employment Tribunal Claims

A consultation is expected to take place upon the proposal to introduce a fee as a pre-condition of issuing proceedings in the Employment Tribunal. This fee, which would be refunded for successful Claimants, would be welcomed by employers who are often faced with having to deal with what they believe to be spurious and unmerited claims from employees and former employees who have nothing to lose by issuing claims which are then often settled by employers simply to avoid the inconvenience and legal costs of mounting a full defence.

The above represents a very brief summary of key employment changes set to take place in the forthcoming year and we will be reporting upon these changes in our regular online updates. We are also planning a series of seminars to provide more detail and offer practical advice.

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