The World Cup.
As many will be aware the 2014 FIFA World Cup takes place in Brazil between Thursday 12 June 2014 and Sunday 13 July 2014.
The tournament can generate a variety of problems for employers who will face the following issues during this period;
- Requests for annual leave and “sickness” absences (Employers may want to cross reference such absences with the fixture list!)
- Increased use of the internet and social media
- Flexibility during working hours
Employers will need to consider their existing policies on procedures on the above and make sure staff are aware of these. There is an opportunity to generate goodwill by allowing employees to vary their hours
Some helpful guidance released by ACAS can be found on their website.
Statutory Sick Pay
With effect from 6 April employers can no longer reclaim statutory sick pay from the State. Previously they had been able to reclaim any amount of statutory sick pay above the figure of 13% of its National Insurance contributions in the relevant month.
The purpose of this change was that the existing system purportedly did not give employers sufficient incentive to encourage the return of long term sick employers to the work place.
Pre Claim Conciliation
From 6 May 2014 new rules come into force requiring employees bringing a claim to the Employment Tribunal to pursue “pre-claim” conciliation with ACAS first . An employee will not be entitled to bring a relevant claim at all, unless this process has been followed.
The rules require a claimant to either present a completed early conciliation form containing prescribed information or contact ACAS by telephone with this information for ACAS to record.
Once ACAS has received this information, it has one calendar month to pursue a settlement of the dispute between employer and employee. The period may be extended by up to 14 days if the ACAS conciliator believes that a settlement is achievable within that period.
If settlement is not achieved the conciliator will issue a certificate to the Claimant evidencing that the Claimant has tried to conciliate and this has failed. Only after receipt of the certificate will the employee, from 6 May 2014, be entitled to lodge a claim in the Employment Tribunal and the ET 1 claim form requires the claimant to enter the certificate details.
The scheme provides for an extension of the normal three month period to bring employment claims to incorporate the conciliation.
The intention is that this process will reduce the number of claims. Opinion is divided as whether or not this will be achieved or whether this will simply create further legal issues for the Tribunal and Appeals Tribunal.
The Flexible Working Regulations 2014 will come in to force on 30 June.
These extend the right to make a request for flexible working to all employees with continuous employment of 26 weeks or more. Previously this request had been open to parents of children under 17 (or 18 if disabled) and certain types of carer.
Employers will need to remember that the maximum compensation for a failure to comply with its obligations in dealing with a request for flexible working is 8 weeks pay (subject to the statutory cap of £464 per week).
National Minimum Wage
From 1 October 2014 the National Minimum Wage rates will increase as follows;
- The adult rate from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour.
- The rate for 18 – 20 year olds from £5.03 to £5.13 per hour.
- The rate for 16 – 17 year olds from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour.
- The rate for apprentices from £2.68 – £2.73 per hour.
The penalty for employers who fail to pay workers their National Minimum Wage can be up to £20,000 (an increase of 400% on the previous penalty).
There is also now in place a scheme for “naming and shaming” offending employers on the Direct Gov website.
Employment Tribunal Statistics
In July of last year a fee scheme was introduced in the Employment Tribunal for the first time. This involved the payment of an issue fee and a hearing fee (£250 and £950 for unfair dismissal claims for example).
It was envisaged that this would lead to a decrease in claims. It was not immediately possible to identify whether or not this was the case given the surge of claims prior to the fee scheme commencing.
The Ministry of Justice has however issued figures for claims issued in the Employment Tribunal between October and December 2014. There was a 79% drop compared with the same period in 2012. Good news for employers, not so good for Claimant employment lawyers.
17 June 2014