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Employment Law 2011

New Tribunal award limits – 1st February 2011
The Employments rights (Increase of Limits) order 2010 (SI2010/2926) increases the limits of certain employment tribunal awards and other amounts payable under employment legislation. The maximum unfair dismissal compensatory award rises from £65,300 to £68,400, and the maximum amount of a week’s pay for the purpose of calculating a statutory redundancy payment and the basic and additional awards for unfair dismissal increases from £380 to £400. The rise in the limits applies where the event that gives rise to the award or payments occurs on or after the 1st February 2011. The order can be viewed on the UK legislation website.

Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increase – 3rd April 2011
The standard rate of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increases from £124.88 to £128.73. Information on the new rates can be viewed on the Department for Work and Pensions website.

Additional paternity leave and pay - 3rd April 2011
Employees who are fathers, or spouses or partners of mothers, and employees who have been matched for adoption and are spouses or partners of the person taking adoption leave are entitled to take additional paternity leave of up to 26 weeks in the first year of their child’s life or the first year after the child’s placement for adoption, and may be entitled to additional paternity pay. Additional paternity leave has effect in relation to children whose expected week of birth is on or after 3 April 2011, or who are matched for adoption with a person who is notified of the match or on after 3 April 2011.

Increase in personal allowance and national insurance contributions for employees – 6th April 2011
The primary employee threshold for national insurance contributions increases by £570. National insurance contributions increase by 1% for employees. The personal allowance for income tax for basic rate tax payers under the age of 65 is increased by £1,000.

Increase in national insurance thresholds and contributions for employers – 6th April 2011
Employers' national insurance thresholds increase by £21 per week above indexation. Employers' national insurance contributions increase by 1%.

Default retirement age abolished – 6th April 2011
Employers are prohibited from issuing new notifications of retirement using the default retirement age. An employer that issues a notification of retirement before 6 April 2011 will be able to retire the employee if his or her retirement date is before 1 October 2011. An employer cannot prescribe a compulsory retirement age, unless it can justify it as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Right to request flexible working extended to parents of children under 18 – 6th April 2011
The Government grants parents of children under 18 the right to request flexible working. This extends the right to request to work flexibly already conferred to parents of children under the age of 17, or under the age of 18 if the child is disabled, and to employees who care for adults aged 18 or over.

Statutory sick pay increase – 6th April 2011
The standard rate of statutory sick pay increases from £79.15 to £81.60 per week.

Bribery offences introduced - April 2011
The Bribery Act 2010 aims to promote anti-bribery practices among businesses, by modernising the law on bribery. The Act introduces a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business has a defence if it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. The penalty is an unlimited fine. For individuals, it will be a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe. The legislation raises the maximum penalty for bribery by individuals from seven to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Equal treatment for agency workers – 1st October 2011
The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/93) give agency workers the same basic employment conditions after 12 weeks in a given job as if they had been employed directly by the end-user. The Regulations implement the Temporary Agency Workers Directive (2008/104/EC).