Are there any new HR and employment laws that I should be aware of as a small business owner?
There were a number of employment law changes introduced last month. They include financial penalties being introduced for employers who are found to have breached employment legislation where there are aggravating features present. The penalty will be payable to the Exchequer, in addition to the award and the fee reimbursement to the claimant. A minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000 will be payable and these will be applied to tribunal decisions for claims that are brought on or after 6th April 2014.
In addition, the rate for statutory sick pay has increased to £87.55; statutory maternity pay/adoption pay/paternity pay also increased to £138.18. Make note that the maximum unfair dismissal compensatory award increased to £76,574 (subject to cap of 52 weeks’ pay). Also the statutory guarantee pay increased to £25 per day, therefore the maximum week’s pay for statutory redundancy pay purposes increases to £464 respectively.
You should also note and of equal importance, the Early Conciliation system has been introduced, which means that prospective claimants must inform Acas of their intention to claim so that they can attempt to conciliate and therefore claims will no longer be sent directly to the tribunal service. The statutory discrimination questionnaire will be repealed and replaced with a more informal approach for employees who would like to pose questions to their employer about alleged discrimination.
As with any new employment law changes, you should ensure that all your HR policies and procedures are watertight and that you regularly review to ensure compliance with changes in employment law and HR rules.
Further reading on legal matters