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19-03-2014

From 6 April, a number of changes are coming into effect, which may impact employers. They include the following:

From 6 April, Employment Tribunals will have the power to order an employer who loses at an Employment Tribunal claim to pay a penalty to the Secretary of State if the employer’s breach has one or more aggravating features. The penalty will be 50% of any financial award made to the employee, with a minimum threshold of £100 and a maximum cap of £5,000. It will be reduced by 50% if paid within 21 days, a bit like a parking fine. The ability to order payment of such a penalty will only apply to claims presented on or after 6 April 2014.

The Percentage Threshold Scheme enables employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay from HMRC, where the total SSP paid in a month exceeds 13% of their Class 1 National Insurance Contributions for that month. A draft Order abolishing the scheme, as part of the government's review of health at work, has been laid before Parliament and approved by the House of Lords on 12 February 2014. It is expected to take effect on 6 April 2014.

Statutory Discrimination Questionnaires will be abolished from 6 April 2014. These were often seen as the bane of an employer’s life. In cases of discrimination, employees could put forward lengthy and time-consuming questionnaires. If an employer failed to answer them or gave evasive or incomplete answers, a negative inference could be drawn by the tribunal. Often such questionnaires were put to employers for no reason other than to cause them to incur costs. Whilst the statutory procedure has now been abolished, it does not necessarily mean the death of the questionnaire. Although tribunals will no longer be able to draw adverse inferences from a failure to respond to such questionnaires fully, they will still be able to take the employer’s response to questions into account more generally, and may also order an employer to provide the information sought during the tribunal proceedings. Consequently, expect potential satellite litigation and appeals. ACAS has issued guidelines (here).

Sarah Rushton (srushton@moonbeever.com)

This is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information.

 

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