Important Changes to Employment Law through 2013, You Absolutely Need to Be Aware Of

Employment Law Changes

Many don’t know their rights in the workplace, and so can easily become victims of unfair treatment. To prevent this, we have prepared this handy guide to what we think are the most important changes to employment law occurring in the UK during the year ahead.

Read on to know what you will be entitled to when the year is out.

An Expansion of One-Month to Unpaid Parental Leave:

This is a very important change to employment law, and one that will massively affect any who have children, or are considering having children. In March, the length of time an employee can take unpaid parental leave for will increase by a full 5 weeks, increasing the time you are allowed to take from work for the good of your of your family from 3 months to 4 months. The exceptionally inquisitive may remember this bill being planned for March of last year, however, 2 months before it was set to begin, the initiative was postponed for a full year. Parents among us will rejoice to hear that the legislation will receive a new lease of life on the 8th of March, though.

Statutory Sick Pay Increase:

Another important change all employees should familiarize themselves with is that of statutory sick pay. At present it stands at £85.85 per week, but in April we will see the threshold rise to £86.70. Granted, this is not a massive increase, and many may scoff at the notion of fretting over 85 pence, but it’s the new legal minimum, and make sure you get what you deserve should you need to take sick leave. Moreover, rising with statutory sick pay you will see maternity/paternity and additional paternity/adoption pay increase from £135.45 per week to £136.78 per week.

Introduction of Fees for Tribunal Hearings:

Coming into effect in the summer of 2013, this bill is designed to minimize the number of people looking for extortionate compensation payouts at tribunal hearings. The bill will see an introduction of an upfront fee payable on claims over £30,000. The fee, which will stand at £1,500, will hopefully encourage a reduction in the numbers of people seeking over the top payouts for minor cases. Through 2010 and 2011 alone there were a reported 218,000 tribunal hearings, costing employers on average £4,000 to defend, per claim. This bill shall surely reduce this figure, but may leave many with legitimate grievances at a loss for options, especially considering our next big change.

A Removal of Legal Aid for the Majority of Employment Claims:

This piece of legislation, scheduled to come into force late 2013 is an especially important change. The bill proposes to remove much of the legal aid jilted employees are currently offered when seeking employment claims, and by the government’s own estimate we should see a drop in the total number of cases of around 623,000 the following year. Due to a drop in public spending on Legal Aid of around £350m, the amount of disposable income under which you can apply for a grant will be dropped from a £8,000 to £1,000. This is clearly a huge difference, aimed predominantly at reducing the number of applicants seeking claims in such practices as: private family law, immigration law, educational and employment law and even certain debt and housing complaints.

Amendments to Whistleblowing Legislation:

The culture of whistleblowing in the UK stands on some shaky ground, legally. It has often been criticized for encouraging illegitimate whistleblowers the chance to come forward, giving jilted employees a legal platform for their own spiteful vengeance. However, the new legislation will see whistleblowing rulings follow more closely the US style of legislation that has been in force since the Civil War. Now, any whistleblowing activity must be made completely in the vested interest of the greater public, and so shall hopefully lift the veil of suspicion from the important act of whistleblowing – serving to encourage those with legitimate concerns to come forward.

These are only several examples of the important changes happening to UK employment law before the year is out. For more information we would recommend for you to seek professional legal advice. Visit Coles Employment Law Solicitors to get a more a complete breakdown of the changes occurring through the year that will most affect your individual circumstances.

This is a guest post written by Adam Watson.