Employment Law Update!
9th April 2014
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Financial penalties for employers

For employers there are potential financial penalties if an Employment Tribunal considers a claimant’s employment rights have been infringed. However, a penalty will only be incurred if the Tribunal finds some aggravating factor in the infringement.

For instance dismissing an employee unfairly may be aggravated by a failure to consult or carry out a fair procedure.

The maximum penalty is £5000 although the Tribunal will apply a 50% discount for paying the penalty promptly. Ironically the monies do not go to the aggrieved employee but rather to the Government via the Employment Tribunal system.


Statutory sick pay

Statutory sick pay has been increased to £87.55 per week and the lower rate of statutory maternity pay has been increased to £138.18 per week.

For employers the old system whereby they could recover some statutory sick pay if it exceeded 13% of an employee's national insurance level has finished.

There is a transitional period for employees who were sick prior to 6 April 2014.


Compensation limits

The statutory week's pay used to calculate redundancy awards has been increased to £464 per week.

The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal is now £76,574 or the lower of 52 weeks’ gross pay.


ACAS conciliation

Perhaps the biggest change to the Employment Tribunal regime is the mandatory requirement, with effect from 6 May 2014, for an employee to notify ACAS of a potential claim prior to issuing the claim in the Employment Tribunal.

An employee intending to bring any claim in an Employment Tribunal must complete an Early Conciliation Notification Form and submit it to ACAS. The Early Conciliation Notification Form must initially be completed by the employee even if he has a legal representative.

ACAS will then get in touch with the potential claimant and if he has instructed the legal representative will then deal with that representative.

ACAS will offer an Early Conciliation service, the purpose of which is to avoid the cost, time and possible stress of a Tribunal hearing.

Assuming the employee is interested in conciliation ACAS will get in touch with the employer and will try and mediate a settlement.

Although ACAS officials are skilled in employment law they do not offer legal advice, and conciliation is all about obtaining a satisfactory settlement rather than legal point scoring. 

It is hoped that a sizeable proportion of all potential claims will be settled during Early Conciliation.


If either party changes its mind and declines conciliation or if an Early Conciliation Hearing takes place and settlement cannot be agreed then ACAS will issue a certificate to this effect.

If either claimant or respondent decline to attend an Early Conciliation Hearing then ACAS will issue a certificate recording this fact.

An Employment Tribunal will only accept a claim provided it is accompanied with an ACAS certificate.

There are tight time restrictions in the Employment Tribunal. 

Often a claim must be brought within 3 months of the date of dismissal or complaint. This does not leave much time to engage in Early Conciliation. To circumvent the problem the rules extend the time limit to issue an Employment Tribunal claim by one month to allow the parties to fully engage in the early conciliation process.

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Dave B

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