|EMPLOYMENT HELP FOR THE VERY BUSY
WINTER – SPRING 2012
Welcome to my latest HR Newsletter and the first one of 2012. This is being heralded as a ‘big’ year for HR and Employment Law. BIS will be leading a comprehensive review of all existing employment laws to ensure they promote flexibility and fairness, to help kick start enterprise in the UK – so fingers are crossed that small businesses will eventually see a reduction in red tape!
Unfortunately, in the short term at least, there will still be changes to navigate. So here is a summary of what is in store, with lots of tips and advice to guide you along the way. Links are underlined.
The employment tribunal service is currently under review by the Ministry of Justice. Changes under consideration include a new rapid resolution scheme (aimed at resolving low-value straightforward employment disputes with an alternative method to tribunals), a pre-claim service (to encourage the wider use of conciliation services by ACAS), as well as protected conversations (to enable employers to raise performance issues without fear that their words will be used against them in a tribunal) and the introduction of fees to lodge claims and fines to employers if they lose a tribunal case.
Kay Heald comment: It will be important to apply good people management and common sense to all of these changes. eg protected conversations will not ‘protect’ employers from tribunal claims, if they are used to fast-track dismissals, without trying to genuinely resolve performance issues first. It is highly unlikely that all the above changes will end up being adopted, so please keep an eye out for future editions of this Newsletter, where we will let you know exactly what is being introduced and by when. Any fees and fines linked with tribunals are unlikely to be introduced before April 2013.
Useful Information: The Ministry of Justice has launched a new Civil Mediation Directory, which replaces the National Mediation Helpline.
Extension of Rights to claim Unfair Dismissal (due 6th April 2012)
Changes to unfair dismissal rules will see the qualification period for the right to claim unfair dismissal extended from one to two years. This is the latest development in the Government’s workplace reforms which aim to increase business confidence to take on more workers. The change is expected to reduce the number of annual unfair dismissal claims by around 2,000.
Kay Heald comment: Remember that ‘protection from discrimination’ will not require any qualifying period and probation periods and induction will still be the best mechanisms for helping to integrate new members of staff into your organisation. Give me a call if you would like to strengthen these processes in your organisation: 05600 434 727 and also take a look at: First Impressions – what does it feel like to be a new employee?
Compensated No-fault Dismissals
The government is proposing to introduce ‘compensated no-fault dismissals’ for micro-businesses (defined as those with 10 or fewer employees). This would remove the uncertainty of tribunal decisions in terms of liability and compensation and employers would know how much compensation they would be paying.
Kay Heald comment: This is a potentially interesting development for micro-businesses, however, the scheme would have to provide sufficient compensation to avoid employers dismissing employees whenever they felt like it.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee will be marked with an additional bank holiday on Tuesday 5 June 2012. The late May bank holiday will be moved to Monday 4 June to create a long weekend of celebration.
Part of the government’s scheme to bring more skills into the workforce will be inviting businesses to bid for a share of £50 million for vocational training for 2012/13 and £200 million the following year.
Kay Heald comment: Although the scheme is supposedly aimed at businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, employers will need to demonstrate how they will leverage private investment, support apprenticeships and raise skill levels in their sector – so, joint collaborations are probably the more likely way forward. I will forward more details as they become available.
Statutory Guarantee payment will increase to £23.50 per day (1st Feb 2012)
Tribunal compensation limit for unfair dismissals will increase to £72,300 (1st Feb 2012)
Statutory Sick Pay will increase to £85.85 (6th April 2012)
Statutory Maternity, Adoption and Paternity Pay will increase to £135.45 (6th April 2012)
Macmillan have produced a FREE toolkit for employers to help them support employees affected by cancer, should they wish to remain or return to work, called The Essential Work and Cancer toolkit. It can be ordered free from their website. It includes practical advice and top tips and is produced in conjunction with the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development).
The Health and Safety Executive have issued new guidance to help make it simpler for businesses to comply with legislation. The site contains lots of useful information in a series of ‘stop check’ boxes
In 2012/3 the Government plans to offer employers with up to 50 employees an incentive payment of up to £1,500, to encourage thousands of small firms that don’t currently hire apprentices to take on a young apprentice aged 16 to 24. It will involve an initial payment two months after the individual has started their apprenticeship and the balance will be paid after the apprenticeship has been completed and the trainee has progressed into sustainable employment. Processes will be simplified to make it quicker and easier for employers to take on an apprentice eg streamlining health and safety requirements to reduce demands on employers. There will also be a renewed focus on targeting the programmes where apprenticeships deliver greatest value – including younger adults, new employees, higher level qualifications and particular sectors where they can make the greatest impact.
Kay Heald comment: Specific details are yet to emerge, but general information is available on the official Apprenticeship website. There is also an employer’s helpline on: 08000 150 600
PENSION CHANGES – AUTO ENROLMENT
From October 2012 employers will, for the first time, be required to automatically enrol ‘eligible jobholders’ into a pension scheme and provide a minimum level of contributions. To comply with these new duties, employers can use their own designated qualifying scheme or the Government’s scheme, National Employment Savings Trust (NEST).
Kay Heald comment: The Government has agreed to offer smaller businesses (ie under 50 employees) an additional breathing space in the form of a one-year delay – this means that small employers will need to automatically enrol their staff in May 2015 instead of April 2014. However, all other employers will need to comply with the new duties from their current “staging date”, unless otherwise notified.
Useful Information: Remember to check your PAYE number at www.pensionreform.aegon.co.uk to find out the staging date of your particular business.
The Best Things Come in Small Packages – the advantages of being a small service provider
Aren’t you Retiring yet? – All about succession planning, including 10 key questions
First Impressions – what does it feel like to be a new employee? – Tips on what an induction programme should include
(leads on from the Fluttering Rights e-book)
* * * NEWS UPDATE * * *
I just want to let you know that I came a respectable 4th in the Leading Adviser category or the 2011 Midlands Family Business Awards – unfortunately, no shiny trophy, but a great experience! If you are a family business, I hope you will consider entering your own organisation into their 2012 Awards!
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.