03 April 2012 #Employment
The following changes came into force on 6 April 2012.
Significantly employees whose employment is due to start on or after 6 April will be subject to an increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal. The period has increased from one to two years. The order bringing the changes into force can be found here. The impact of this change has been the subject of considerable debate.
Employment tribunal procedure
A number of change to tribunal practice and procedure are coming into effect.
Statutory payment rates
From April 2012, the standard weekly rates will increase for the following payments:
There are also changes affecting tax and pension rates, including: income tax personal allowance; taxable bands; National Insurance contributions; and pensions lifetime allowance.
Compromise agreements - Compromising discrimination claims
A drafting anomaly in section 147 of the Equality Act 2010 (which sets out the conditions for a valid compromise agreement) will be rectified by The Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Order 2012. The amendment will clarify that under the compromise agreement, a solicitor negotiating exit terms or bringing a claim on an employee’s behalf can also be their “independent adviser.” This is a technical issue which has concerned employment lawyers when completing compromise agreements.
There have been various announcements recently in this area. Section 32(2)(b) of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 states that an apprenticeship agreement entered into under the Act must be in the “prescribed form”. The Apprenticeships (Form of Apprenticeship Agreement) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/844), which come into force on 6 April, specify that the prescribed form must contain the basic terms of employment required to be given to employees under section 1 of ERA 1996 plus a statement as to the trade or skill for which the apprentice is to be trained.
From 6 April, contracting out of the second state pension on a money purchase basis is being abolished. Employers will need to consider whether to issue employees with a statement of changes to the terms of their employment.