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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Employment tribunal award limits set to increase next month

FIRSTLY, as we move seamlessly from December into January, I would like to wish all HR Talk readers a very happy new year and I hope that 2013 is good to you and your respective businesses.

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PHIL COLLIER: An organisation of the size of BAE Systems is invaluable to the town REF: 50027719B011

I thought I would start the new year by looking at some of the changes in employment law that are due to take place, or are proposed, during the year. Over the coming weeks and months, I will provide a practical overview in respect of these changes as and when they occur and will continue to examine some of the more basic and fundamental issues associated with employing staff.

Following the chancellor’s Autumn Statement it seems as though the current period of austerity is set to continue throughout 2013. But what impact will this have on businesses employing people? Can we look forward in hope?

In February, the employment tribunal award limits will rise – both in terms of the value of a week’s pay and the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal.

In addition to this, there are proposals to introduce employment tribunal fees in the summer of next year for an issue, a hearing and an employment appeals tribunal issue.

The idea behind this is to deter frivolous claims.

However, the expected levels of these fees are relatively small and are unlikely to deter many of the somewhat spurious claims that are presently submitted.

There are many other possible changes under discussion and which I will write about if and as they occur during the year. For me, however, the potential change that is likely to hit small businesses most going forward is the flexible parental leave proposals recently announced by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg. While not likely to happen until 2015, it is important to highlight this now in the hope that organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses can become involved in discussions at an early stage to protect its members. I shall certainly be covering this in some depth throughout the year.

I would also remind businesses that the new pension regulations kicked off in October last year.

Although these won’t impact on SMEs until February 2014 and small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees) until at least April 2015, this will, of course, have a financial impact on businesses and it would be prudent for employers to start to consider this now rather than be caught out as their auto-enrolment date looms upon them.

With this in mind, Turnstone HR is running a free seminar at the Abbey House Hotel at 5pm on February 13 in conjunction with Furness Independent Financial Advisors.

As I have previously mentioned in this column, we are working closely with FIFA on the issue of pensions so that we can provide the best possible advice to businesses.

This means that Turnstone can discuss all the employment issues associated with the act whilst FIFA will provide sound pensions advice. We are pleased to announce that we have secured the presence of specialist pensions provider, Aegon, at this seminar. Further details will follow in the Evening Mail.

Finally, my last column of 2012 covered the issue of occupational health in small businesses. The Furness branch of the Federation of Small Businesses is holding a free seminar on this subject on January 21 at 5.30pm at the Custom House.

We are fortunate to have the lead GP from the Furness locality and member of the new countywide clinical commissioning group, Dr Geoff Joliffe, to talk about his views for a potential “collective” service providing occupational health to small businesses in the area.

For details of either seminar or for further information on employment issues, please contact Turnstone HR on info@turnstonehr.com or call 01229 615280 to speak to one of our HR advisers and book your free consultation meeting.

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