Last year saw a lot of discussion from the government and government appointed officials over what to do about employment law.

In an effort to help the economy it was decided that the government had to make it easier for businesses to employ people, thus reducing unemployment figures and generating more spending. Whether it be reducing red tape on employing EU workers or making private discussions between employers and employees on their productivity and performance “protected” there wasn't much of a shortage of ideas, good or not.


In 2011 the Agency Workers Regulations came into force and we saw the first conviction under the Bribery Act 2010 as well as the removal of the retirement age amongst others. What then in the year 2012 do employers need to be aware of?

Number one on the list has to be the change to the qualifying period  for when employees will be able to bring a claim to tribunal for unfair dismissal. It is currently one year but come 1 October this year the qualifying period becomes two years for all except discrimination cases and automatically unfair dismissal cases where there is no qualifying period.

Statutory redundancy and unfair dismissal payments are set to increase this year also. On 1 February 2012, the maximum week's pay that is used when calculating both statutory redundancy and additional awards for unfair dismissal increases from £400 to £430. 1 February also brings an increase in the maximum pay out for unfair dismissal from £ 68, 400 to £72, 300. Later in the year, April sees increases in statutory maternity pay alongside sick pay. Maternity, paternity and adoption pay will increase from £128.73 to £135.45 whilst, statutory sick pay will increase from £81.60 to £85.85 per week.

This is the year that a lot of employers will have to automatically enrol their employees onto their pension schemes. Smaller businesses do not have to enrol their employees just yet and get a longer grace period not having to enrol their employees until May 2015. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are considered small for the purpose for auto-enrolment.

Whilst many changes are planned to come into play this year, there is still much room for yet further debate on how changes to legislation, in particular, de-regularisation could help encourage businesses to employ. This year should see some confirmation on the fees to be introduced for bringing a claim to tribunal and possible extensions to the right to request flexible working. In 2012 workers will also have an extra Bank Holiday to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and employers should make plans accordingly.  Keep an eye on our Employment Law Calendar to keep up to date on what's changing and when.

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