- April 4, 2016
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Spring Summer 2016 Newsletters
Employment Legislation – Recent important changes.
2016 Statutory Rates.
Despite announcing in January that the rates of payment for Maternity, Paternity, SSP etc remain unchanged for 2016; there is a small increase in compensation payments from Tribunals. From 6 April 2016 the calculation of a week’s pay goes up from £475 to £479; the upper limit for unfair dismissal, the compensatory award, rises to £78, 962 (from £78,335)
The National Living Wage (NLW) will come into force in April 2016. It will apply to those aged 25 and over, and will be set at the initial rate of £7.20 per hour. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) will continue to apply as before, with the NLW applying over and above that amount for those aged 25 and over
Unpaid awards and settlements
A surprising number of employees who win compensation at a Tribunal never see the full amount. From April 2016 the Government intends to bring new unpaid award penalties into force. It will issue a warning notice if any awards or settlements made by a tribunal are not paid. If awards remain outstanding the employer will be subject to a penalty notice of 50% on the outstanding amount owed. The amount is a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000.
Migrant workers – from 6 April 2016 migrant workers who have spent five years working in the UK will have to earn more than £35,000 pa to stay longer. This will apply to those who have a tier 2 visa. It will not apply to anyone on the shortage occupation list or to scientists and researchers in PhD level occupations.
Employer National Insurance Contributions for apprentices under the age of 25 years to be abolished from 6 April 2016.
Cap on Exit Payments in Public Sector
Public sector employees will be required to repay a tapering proportion of a ‘qualifying exit payment’ if they return to the public sector within a period of 12 months under regulations – expected to come into force on 1 April. A £95,000 cap on the total value of exit payments for public sector workers will also be introduced, but no date has yet been given for its implementation
Tribunal Claims continue downward trend.
Employment Tribunal receipts continued to be much reduced compared with earlier years. In 2014/15 the Tribunal received 16,420 single claims; 44,888 multiple claims; and 61,308 total claims. This compares with 2013/14 when the Tribunal received 34,219 single claims; 71,584 multiple claims; and 105,803 total claims. The Annual Report suggests that the introduction of fees is the primary reason for this significant decline.
The Government has recently published the draft legislation introducing a new apprenticeship levy, expected to come into force in April 2017. The levy will be on UK employers with a payroll of over £3 million to help fund new apprenticeships. It will be charged at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill.
Gender pay reporting
The Government has published a draft of The Equality Act (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2016. The regulations will apply to private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with 250 or more employees and are intended to come into force in October 2016. The first reports were due to be published in April 2017, but this is now 2018 and will be based on the April 2017 headcount.
Since October 2013, in excess of 400 employers have been named and shamed for not paying the National Minimum Wage. In an effort to prevent this from re-occurring, the Government has increased the fine from a maximum of £20,000 per employer to a massive £20,000 (up to) per employee affected. This makes a huge difference!
2016 Statutory Rates.
The Government has announced the 2016/2017 Statutory Rates. This includes the statutory payments that employers are obliged to make for Sick Pay, Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay, Adoption Pay and Shared Parental Pay. The current levels are to be unchanged for this year. That is £88.45 per week for SSP and £139.58 per week for the other Statutory “family friendly” payments.
The lower earnings limit, which is the trigger for entitlement to these payments, will also be frozen at £112 per week.
Zero Hours worker protection.
- With immediate effect (11 January) some real protection has been introduced for zero hour contract workers.
- Regulations (The Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hour Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015) provide that:
- any dismissal of a zero hour contract employee is automatically unfair, if the principal reason is that s/he breached a contractual clause prohibiting him/her from working for another employer.
- no qualifying period is required to bring such an unfair dismissal claim; and,
- it is also unlawful to submit a zero hour worker (note: worker not employee) to detriments if they work for another employer in breach of a clause prohibiting them from doing so.
Research by the CIPD has identified that, contrary to popular belief, staff on zero hours contracts are happier than permanent staff! 65% were very satisfied with their job and 62% felt they had the right work life balance. Permanent staff scores were lower on these issues. The vast majority (88%) said they had chosen to work part time on this type of contract.
New “Whistleblowing” rules
The Financial Conduct Authority has published a package of new rules to make it easier for employees in the financial sectors to raise concerns. Banks and Insurance Companies will need to introduce the new measures by September 2016. Under the new rules, businesses will have to appoint a senior manager as a Whistleblowing “champion” and effective Whistleblowing arrangements including staff training.
English speakers required.
The Government announced this month that all customer facing Public Sector staff will have to be able to speak fluent English. This requirement is in the Immigration Bill and will apply to existing staff as well as all new recruits. A draft code of practice is out for consultation until early December 2015. There will have to be some clarity over what this means to avoid claims of race discrimination where the Employer makes a subjective decision at interview about someone’s language skills.
A barrister who brought more than 30 tribunal claims which were described as weak and hopeless (yes, a barrister!) has been barred from making any further claims by the EAT. He has also been disbarred by his profession. (Attorney General v Iteshi)