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Employment Law Changes – April 2014

The following employment law measures came into force on 6 April 2014:

Financial Penalties for Employers Who Breach Employment Law

An Employment Tribunal (ET) now has the discretionary power to impose a financial penalty on an employer who is found to have breached a worker’s employment law rights where the breach has one or more aggravating features. The penalty will be 50 per cent of any financial award, with a minimum penalty of £100 and a maximum of £5,000. The sum payable will be reduced by 50 per cent if the penalty is paid within 21 days.

Acas Early Conciliation

All those wishing to bring an ET claim must first send details of their dispute to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), which will offer the parties the opportunity to settle the matter through a new, free service called Early Conciliation. If the offer is refused or the attempt at conciliation fails, the claimant will be able to proceed with their claim.

Discrimination Questionnaires

The statutory discrimination questionnaire procedure has been abolished and replaced with non-statutory guidance from Acas, ‘Asking and responding to questions of discrimination in the workplace’.

Statutory Pay Rate Increases

The rate of Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay has increased from £136.78 to £138.18 for payment weeks commencing on or after 6 April 2014. In addition, the rate of Statutory Sick Pay increased from £86.70 to £87.55.

Also, the date for implementation of any annual inflation-linked changes to ET awards, including the rates for redundancy pay, has been changed from 1 February to 6 April. The rates that will apply where the event which triggers the claim falls on or after 6 April 2014 can be found in the Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2014.