• Changes in Employment Law in April 2013

    A range of employment law changes take effect in April 2013.

    Perhaps the most important is the reduction in the minimum consultation period where an employer proposes 100 or more redundancies at one establishment within 90 days. The minimum consultation period falls from 90 to 45 days. The scope of the collective redundancy consultation rules is also amended so as to exclude the expiry of fixed-term contracts from the calculation of the number of redundancies taking place in the relevant period. Both of these changes are intended to take effect on 6 April. However, the relevant statutory instrument is still only in draft form and has not yet received the approval of Parliament.

    Other changes in April include new rates of statutory maternity pay and sick pay. The Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2013 SI 2013/574 will increase statutory sick pay from £85.85 to £86.70 on 6 April 2013, and on 7 April 2013 it will increase statutory maternity pay, ordinary and additional statutory paternity pay, and statutory adoption pay from £135.45 to £136.78.

    The House of Commons will consider the Lords’ amendments to the Growth and Infrastructure Bill and the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill on 16 April. These amendments included removing the controversial employee ownership clause from the Growth and Infrastructure Bill. The Commons will either accept the removal, retain the clause, or modify it to address their Lordships’ concerns. The Chancellor stated in the 2013 Budget that he now intends to implement the scheme in September. The House of Lords will then consider the Bills again on 22 April.

    It is also worth noting that the Court of Appeal in Simmons v Castle held that, from 1 April 2013, the proper level of general damages on grounds such as ‘pain and suffering’ will be 10 per cent higher. The Court went on to say that the best guidance to the types of damages which are covered by the 10 per cent increase is to be found in Chapter 3 of McGregor on Damages (18th edition), which expressly refers to injury to feelings awards in discrimination claims.

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