Each year the Government reviews the thresholds of statutory benefits and has announced the increases taking effect from April 2014. The changes are as follows:-
- the standard rates for statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay will increase from £136.78 to £138.18; and
- statutory sick pay increases from £86.70 to £87.55.
The new rates will be effective from 6 April 2014.
The date for the annual index-linked change to the compensatory award limit for Employment Tribunal claims moved from 1 February to 6 April by way of an amendment which came into force on 29 July 2013. However, the Government isn't obliged to make an index linked change where the power to vary was exercised in the previous 12 month period. While there was originally some speculation that since the amendment came into force on 29 July 2013 the next index-linked change would be April 2015 rather than April 2014, BIS have confirmed that the next increase will be going ahead in April 2014. The draft order bringing this into force and confirmation of the new limits should be published shortly.
There are a number of other important changes taking place on 6 April:-
- discrimination questionnaires will be abolished;
- the introduction of early ACAS conciliation; and
- discretionary financial penalties for employers who lose Tribunal claims.
One change which was expected to take place on 6 April was the introduction of the Children and Families Bill, which will alter the Employment Rights Act 1996 to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees with 26 weeks of service. However, this has been delayed and a new date is still to be announced. Our best guess is that this will be October, but we will update this once the position has been clarified by BIS.
Finally, a new approach to sickness absence management is also to be introduced with the introduction of a health and work assessment and advisory service in Spring 2014.