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Key changes in Employment Law in 2012

2012 is a year that many have been anticipating more than most. For many Britons, the promise of the Olympics coming to London in the summer has provided a brief respite from the gloom of austerity. Against this renewed optimism, there are the pessimists that believe, thanks to the Mayans, that this year really will be spectacular, albeit based on the belief that the world will end on 23rd December.

In between these two extremes; optimism and pessimism, summer and winter, and  the varying degrees of state in between, us civilians still have to pick our way through the malaise of everyday life. Unfortunately, the warnings coming from Europe and economists is that this year, financially, will be as tough as the previous few. Further, with the effects of the recession now filtering through to more job losses, pressures on employment law to react become even more heightened.

There are changes afoot. Some are – like the summer Olympics, bringing with it messages of renewed hope, triumph over adversity etc. Others, however, will be more akin to the end of the world. Below is a summary of the some of the key changes to employment law due to be implemented in the forthcoming year.

February

1st Increase in redundancy pay

Increase to £72,300 limit on amount of compensatory award in unfair dismissal cases

April

1st Increase in statutory pay for maternity and paternity leave

6th Increase in statutory sick pay to £85.85 per week

Qualifying period will increase in unfair dismissal cases to 2 years.

The Employment Tribunal procedure will be reviewed with significant changes to be made, including bringing in a deposit order payable (currently £500) to the court to continue with proceedings.

October

1st The automatic enrolment of employees’ pensions scheme begins.

The national minimum wage MAY rise…

This is not a complete list of all relevant dates. In that respect, it is more like the Mayan’s calendar. While the increased payments are welcomed, the changes to the employment tribunal procedure represent one of the biggest threats to employment law as it currently is. How successful the changes are dependent on their final substance and implementation. It is only then that we can truly assess 2012 as either an Olympic year…or the end of the world as we know it…


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