EMPLOYMENT HELP FOR THE VERY BUSYWelcome to the Spring edition of Employment Help for the Very Busy that sets out the latest rate increases and employment law changes that might affect your business.  


Please note the following rate changes came into effect on 6th April 2012:

  • Statutory Sick Pay increased from £81.60 to £85.85 per week
  • Statutory Maternity, Adoption and Paternity Pay increased from £128.73 to £135.45 per week

From 6th April 2012 the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims increased from one to two years.

Kay’s comment:
The government have confirmed that this will only apply to employees who start new jobs on or after 6th April 2012.

The government have postponed increases to parental leave until at least March 2013.  The proposed changes would increase the number of weeks’ unpaid parental leave from 13 weeks to 18 weeks per parent for each child.

As mentioned in previous editions, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee will be marked with an extra bank holiday on Tuesday 5 June 2012. In addition, remember that the late May bank holiday is also moving to Monday 4 June, to create a long weekend.  It is also important for employers to plan for the London Olympics running from 27th July – 12th August (Paralympics from 29th August – 9th September), to ensure holiday entitlement is allocated fairly and unauthorised absences are avoided.

Kay’s comment:
Do plan ahead for both the Bank Holiday weekend and the Olympic Games by referring back to your employment contracts, checking staff entitlements, communicating your organisation’s arrangements and making provision for any extra cover or resourcing that may be required.

There is an additional apprenticeship grant now available to small businesses, if they are taking on their first apprenticeship in three years, aged between 16 and 24 years old – the grant is called AGE 16 to 24.

Kay’s comment:
If you would like to find out more about this grant and how to go about taking on an apprentice, access the
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) website or alternatively speak to one of their advisers on: 0800 150 600.  There is also a useful article about the Apprenticeship Grant on their website.  Please also note that if you take on an apprenticeship, they will need to be employed under a contract of employment.

For most people reading this Newsletter, the date by which their businesses need to auto-enrol employees into a pension scheme will be somewhere between 2014 and 2016.

Auto-enrolment means that an employee is automatically enrolled into a pension scheme that will either be a private pension scheme or the government’s National Employment Savings Trust (NEST).  Unlike Stakeholder pensions, employers will have to make contributions alongside employees – the total minimum pension contribution will be 8% of qualifying earnings, with a contribution by the employer of 3%. These contributions will be phased in gradually, with full contributions being paid from October 2018.

Kay’s comment:
Please don’t panic – smaller businesses will benefit from the learning experiences of the larger employers and there are already a number of useful information resources available.  The Pensions Advisory Service is a voluntary organisation grant-aided by the DWP that has been set up to help answer individual pension queries.  Their website is: http://www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk/pensions-timeline.aspx and their phone number is: 0845 6012923

NB: Contracting out of state additional pension is no longer permitted.



With the removal of the Default Retirement Age and an estimated third of the workforce being over 50 by 2020 there is an onus on employers to both manage and nurture their ageing workforces.  The CIPD have produced a useful FREE guide: Managing a Healthy Ageing Workforce: http://www.cipd.co.uk/publicpolicy/_managingahealthyageingworkforce – I recommend looking at the myths vs facts sections.

A government-commissioned review of sickness absence is recommending that an independent assessment service should take over return-to-work assessments currently undertaken by GPs.  If the recommendations are accepted, GPs will only be able to sign people off work for up to four weeks.  After that, the new assessment service will assess what work they are capable of doing with the aim of preventing people slipping into long-term absence within the first six months of becoming sick.

Kay’s comment:
This is an interesting development which, if properly implemented, could help employers access more practical support and accurate health information, thus helping them manage long term sickness more effectively.  Watch this space …

As always there are plenty of additional HR and business resources available on my website:  www.kayhealdhr.co.uk

New articles include:

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.

My mailing address is: kay@kayhealdhr.co.ukCopyright (C) 2012 Kay Heald HR All rights reserved.

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