As always, the month of April sees a rush of employment legislation coming into force starting with the National Living Wage which takes effect on 1 April 2016. As of 1 April. workers aged 25 and over must be paid £7.20 per hour, a 50p uplift on the existing adult rate minimum wage of £6.70 per hour. Workers aged 21 to 24 will still be entitled to £6.70 per hour. In addition, the remaining rates continue unchanged but it is anticipated they will be reviewed in the coming months with any changes taking effect on 1 October 2016.
The new tribunal compensatory award limits will take effect on 6 April 2016. The maximum compensatory award is expected to increase from £78,335 to £78,962. As before, the cap on the compensatory award is the lower of the maximum compensatory award or 52 weeks' pay (based on the Claimant's gross salary prior to dismissal but excluding pension contribution, benefits in kind and discretionary bonus). As always there are exceptions where the cap does not apply - including dismissal for whistleblowing, certain health and safety reasons and unlawful discrimination.
A "week's pay" which, amongst other things, is used to calculate statutory redundancy payments, will also increase from £475 on 6 April. The figure that it will increase to has still to be announced.
Also due to take effect from 1 April are the Repayment of Public Sector Exit Payments Regulations 2016. These are the regulations intended to prevent public sector employees receiving large payouts on leaving their jobs only to return to a public sector role a short time later. The regulations will apply to employees with annual salaries of £80,000 or more and will require them to repay some or all of their exit payment if they return to public sector employment within 12 months of their exit.
Provisions are also expected to come into force later in the year limiting public sector exit payments to £95,000.
Provisions of the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 introduce a system of financial penalties for employers who fail to pay awards ordered by employment tribunals are due to come into force in April 2016. There are also provisions limiting the number of postponement requests that can be made by parties to an employment tribunal claim to two requests unless there are exceptional circumstances. In addition, any requests made within 7 days of the hearing, or at the hearing, will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
For more detail on what is expected in 2016 have a listen to our podcast - Innes Clark, Lindsay Gallagher and Kate McGarrity look at the key changes in employment law in 2016 as well as some important cases expected to be decided this year.