Employment Help for the Very Busy – Spring/Summer 2014

Welcome to another round-up of the latest legislative changes and what’s in store over the next few months, particularly for small businesses.

Rate Changes (6th April 2014)
Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £86.70 to £87.55 per week.
Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay increases from £136.78 to £138.18 per week.
A week’s pay, used to calculate redundancy payments, will increase from £450 to £464 and the maximum compensatory award will be increased from £74,200 to £76,574, but still be subject to one year’s pay where that it lower.

National Minimum Wage (7th March 2014)
The cap on penalties for breaching the national minimum wage legislation has risen from £5,000 to £20,000 and guilty employers may now be asked to pay 100% of the total underpayments they have made.

Kay’s comment: The government has also been taking a tougher stance against non-payers, naming and shaming employers caught not paying the national minimum wage. Furthermore, it has approved a rise in the national minimum wage to £6.50 this October, which will be the biggest rise since 2008.

Employment Tribunal Reforms (6th April 2014)
The ACAS early conciliation scheme will apply to all claims lodged on or after 6th May 2014. Tribunals have also gained new powers to financially penalise employers for unreasonable behavior, but the means of an employer to pay penalties will be taken into consideration. Provisional figures suggest tribunal claims were down by nearly 80% in the last quarter of 2013, with many commentators attributing the new fee structure as a likely deterrent.

Kay’s comment: Although ACAS can’t force both sides to participate in early conciliation, I think the scheme is going to be particularly useful to small businesses by providing a more constructive, impartial and efficient way to resolve differences. http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4028

Flexible Working (30th June 2014)
This extension to all employees for the right to request flexible working, as long as they have at least 26 weeks’ service, has been delayed until June.

Kay’s comment: There’s been concern from small employers that they will be inundated with requests that can’t all be accommodated. This is far less likely to be a problem where a fair and transparent process is adopted. I will shortly be producing a Flexible Working Policy template that employers and their staff can tailor for their own use. Clients who have Priority Personnel Advice and Guidance contracts with me will automatically receive a FREE copy.

In the meantime, ACAS have produced a draft guide: http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/p/6/Handling-requests-to-work-flexibly-in-a-reasonable-manner-an-Acas-guide.pdf

Managing Sickness Absence
The Health and Work Service (previously the Health and Work Assessment and Advisory Service) was due to be implemented by the end of 2014, but has now slipped to April 2015. The service will offer a help-line and online support as well as occupational health assessments, available once someone has been absent for a four week period.

Helping Small Businesses in 2014 – useful links to funding and business support for small businesses
Personnel Man and the Early Computer – a brief look back in time when HR was called Personnel.

Please Note: The information contained in this e-newsletter is provided for your general use only.  It should not be treated as a substitute for obtaining professional employment advice on specific issues.

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