Changes to UK employment law after April 6 2012

 

Unemployment rates have been rising recently due to the ongoing financial crisis. The Government believes that part of the problem is that employers are reluctant to take on new employees due to the complexity of employment law. Consequently, they have brought in a raft of reforms that came into effect on April 6, 2012.

Qualifying Period

The most significant change is to the ‘qualifying period’.

Before, employees must have served a full 12 months before they were entitled to bring an unfair dismissal claim. This meant that if an employer terminated a contract inside this period, the employee’s only recourse was to ‘wrongful dismissal’; a contractual claim for money to cover their notice period. This, for many people, will be very low, as little as a week’s wages.

  • From April 6 2012 the qualifying period was extended to two years. The Government expects the change to encourage small businesses to take on new employees, but not everyone is in agreement

The Trades Union Congress has criticised the move, saying that it will lead to an increasingly ‘hire and fire’ workplace culture. However, current employees need not worry. The goal is to increase new employment and the changes have not been made retrospective: they will not apply to current employees.

Other Changes

There are further changes. Increases have been made to:

  • Maternity pay
  • Paternity pay
  • Adoption pay
  • Sick pay

The amount the Employment Tribunal can award in costs to the winning side has also increased. However, costs orders are rare in the Employment Tribunal and are only awarded if one side conducts themselves exceptionally poorly. Nonetheless, the Government hopes that increasing the maximum award to £20,000 will help to ensure that the tribunal process is not abused.

It is not all controversy - the Government has also clarified a technical question about compromise agreements. Following a tribunal case in 2010, there was some confusion over whether the ‘independent advisor’ on a compromise agreement could be a solicitor who themselves acts for the employee. The Quality Act 2010 (Amendment) Order 2012 has cleared this up and confirmed that it is permissible to use the same solicitor.

Businesses and trade unions will be keeping a close eye on these developments and will doubtless make their feelings known once they start to take effect. If a new reform has affected the daily running of your business, it is recommended to seek legal advice to ensure you are aware of your liabilities.

For more information on the current law on employment, see our guidance page on employment law.

Are you affected by the new law reforms and unsure if you have a case for unfair dismissal? Contact Law can recommend a specialist employment solicitor to try to resolve the dispute for you at a tribunal, or outside of tribunal if your length of service is too short. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

What our clients say about us
"This was the first time I've been to court, which was a nerve-racking experience for me. However, I felt very prepared, I understood my case and representation - this was down to you."
Gavin, criminal motoring, Oct 15
"Your service, and the prompt call back from your recommended firm was very good. I would not hesitate to call again or recommend your service."
Ian, employment law, Truro, July 15
"The firm were excellent, could not have been better! They are exactly what I need right now."
Linda, criminal defence, Thames Ditton, Jul 15
"Your contact and service was immediate and utmost professional, 10/10."
TF, conveyancing, Dudley, Jun 15
"I appreciate the service that you provide. I found you to be courteous, efficient and reassuring at a time when my confidence in justice is completely negative."
Patrick, litigation, Pontypridd, Jun 15
"I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the speed of which you came back to me in. If anyone else can benefit from your help like I have done, it would make my day."
Gail M, family law, Potters Bar, Jun 15
"Your assistance was extremely helpful. Particularly to someone who in 40 years of business has never experienced this sort of issue."
TD, commercial litigation, Galashiels, Apr 15
"It is difficult to express the value Contact Law has to someone like me who had very little understanding of the law and how to proceed forward with my case. Thank you for the service you provided."
AE, defamation law, Worthing, Apr 15
"Thank you for the efficient service I received. I was contacted by your solicitor on the same day as my request. Your quick response to my situation made me feel secure."
AN, employment law, London, Apr 15
"Your service was excellent, very fast and informative. I never got the impression of being pressurised at all. The solicitor you recommended was also excellent – very knowledgeable and supportive."
JHD, Motoring law, Liverpool, Apr 15
Brands we work with

Brands we work with

Contact Law supports the endeavours of STAE and commends all the work they are undertaking to assist in the plight of the Asian Elephant

 

We use cookies on the Contact Law site to help us improve it.

If you would like to allow our cookies, please click 'Continue' or carry on browsing. For more information on cookies and how to change your settings, click 'More info'.