Employment law changes for 2013

6th April is one of two common commencement dates in the year – a day when new business laws come into effect. The biggest change this time
round has been the introduction of Real Time Information for all employers. Read on to ensure your business is up to date with all the latest legislation changes and take a look ahead at what the rest of 2013 holds.

Real-Time Information launched

Employers will be required to report PAYE deductions to HMRC at the time of paying employees rather than at the end of the year, under the new Real Time Information (RTI) scheme, with small businesses affected first from April 2013. HMRC has shown some leniency on small businesses that pay staff more frequently than monthly.

Until 5 October 2013, employers with fewer than 50 employees can send information to HMRC by the date of their regular payroll run, but no later than the end of the tax month. Visit www.fpb.org/RTI to find out more about what the changes mean.

Statutory sick pay increase

The standard rate of statutory sick pay increases from £85.85 to £86.70 per week. Collective redundancy consultation period reduces to 45 days The minimum period for collective redundancy consultation where an employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant 100 or more employees, is reduced from 90 days to 45 days. Acas introduces a non-statutory code of practice to guide consultation.

Also, fixed-term contracts that have reached their agreed termination date are excluded from the requirement to consult collectively.

Health and safety inspections relaxed for low-risk businesses

Only businesses operating in ‘higher risk’ areas such as construction and agriculture, or those which have experienced a recent health and safety incident or have a track record of poor performance, will be subject to ‘proactive’ inspections from the Health and Safety Executive or local authorities from April 2013.

However, low-risk businesses should still be aware that genuine employee complaints or incident flagged to HSE will be investigated.

What does the rest of 2013 hold?

Following the government’s Red Tape Challenge back in 2011/12, it has gone to great pains to make it clear that reducing employment red tape is at the top of the priority list. But this is a long process and we will only start to see some of the changes making their way into legislation later on this year (hopefully by the second common commencement date in October).

The latest update on what the future may hold is the government’s report Employment law 2013: progress on reform. This sets out how they will:

By summer 2013

  • replace compromise agreements with “settlement agreements” and introduce a code of practice governing their use
  • impose a reduced cap on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal (an individual cap of 12 months’ pay of the employee concerned, which will apply where this amount is less than the overall cap)
  • charge claimants fees for bringing an employment tribunal claim
  • protect whistleblowers from suffering bullying or harassment from other employees
  • simplify paperwork associated with the Agency Workers Regulations allow for portable Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly CRB) checks, so that an employee will not have to have a new check every time they start a new job.

By autumn 2013

  • reform the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) Regulations introduce the “employee-shareholder” contract of employment, under which employees would be given shares in exchange for waiving certain employment rights.

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