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Employment law changes in 2013

As an employer of domestic staff, and that includes you, even if you employ only one person, be it a carer, housekeeper or nanny, you need to keep abreast of changes in employment law as they are likely to affect you.

A number of changes are expected this current calendar year, some in the area of claims for unfair dismissal.  For example,

  • Maximum unfair dismissal compensation awards have risen, albeit only slightly, from £72,300 to £74,000.
  • The level of a maximum week’s pay, as used in working out statutory redundancy payments and basic awards in employment tribunals, has also increased from £430 to £450.

Taken together, this brings the maximum unfair dismissal award up to £87,000, consisting of a figure for maximum basic award plus the maximum compensatory award.

The message, as always, if you do need to terminate the employment of an employee, take appropriate advice first and follow ALL procedures to the letter.  Failing to do so can hit you hard in the wallet!

The new rates apply where events which lead to a compensation or payment, happen AFTER 1 February 2013 and in the case of unfair dismissal, where the date of termination of employment falls on or after that date.  For all issues where the events occurred BEFORE that date, the old rates apply.

Changes are also afoot in the area of parental leave, increasing  for women, from 13 to 18 weeks taking effect from March 2013.  By 2015 men will have the right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments.  Additionally, the government has already said it is set to increase the child age limit on parental leave from 5 years to 18 years old.

In respect of the amount of notice which staff will require to give employers, the government hopes to keep the rules essentially as they are now.

A woman must notify her employer no later than the end of the 15th week before the expected week of birth (or, if that is not reasonably practicable, as soon as is reasonably practicable) that she is pregnant and provide the expected week of birth and when she intends her Ordinary Maternity Leave to start.

Statutory benefits will increase in April as follows:

  • The standard rates for statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay will increase from £135.45 to £136.78.  The weekly earnings threshold for these payments rises from £107 to £109.
  • Statutory sick pay increases from £85.85 to £86.70, with the weekly earnings threshold also rising from £107 to £109.
  • Maternity allowance increases from £135.45 to £136.78, with the earnings threshold remaining at £30.
  • The new rate of statutory sick pay will be effective from 6 April 2013 with the rate for the other statutory payments effective from 7 April 2013.

Some time during the summer period, the government has also indicated it will introduce charges for Employment Tribunals with a fee for lodging the claim and a further fee if the claim is taken to a hearing.  This is somewhat of a double edged sword, possibly reducing the number of frivolous claims, but imposing a financial penalty on employees who may not be able to afford the process.

As other changes are either brought into force, or mooted, we will endeavour to bring them to your attention.

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