This April sees the start of the financial year of course but it will also see the introduction of some new changes in employment law which will have an effect on all employees.
- Reduction in the consultation period for collective redundancy
The change is effective from April 6 and only applies when there are at least 100 employees potentially affected. From that date when an employer wishes to dismiss 100 or more workers within a period of 90 days or less, the consultation period has been cut from 90 to 45 days.
The situation is unaltered where the number of redundancies is between 20 and 99; that remains at 30 days.
The 90 day period was brought in to give employees time to make plans and allow both parties to try and work out a solution more preferable than redundancies. It is a change that has brought a strong reaction from the trade unions and the Labour party, but those in favour say it will help the economy as the 90 day period was a often regarded as a burden on both sides.
- Real time information (RTI) introduced
The new scheme requires employers to report PAYE deductions to HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) before or at the time of paying employees rather than at the end of the year. Once the RTI is being used, the employer will not need to submit P14 and P35 forms as HMRC will already have the information it requires.
- Statutory sick pay increases
From April 6 the rate of statutory sick pay increases from £85.85 per week to £86.70. This will be paid to those too ill to work and is paid by the employer for up to 28 weeks. Employees need to qualify for statutory sick pay and have to have been off work sick for four or more days in a row, including non-working days.
- Increase in statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay
This will increase on 7 April from £135.45 to £136.78. For maternity pay to be payable, the employee is expected to have worked continuously for at least 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. SMP is payable for 39 weeks, at 90% of the average weekly earning for the first six weeks and for the remaining 33 weeks at the SMP rate or 90% of the average weekly earnings, whichever is the lower figure.
For paternity pay, again the man has to be an employee and is to have worked continuously for the employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due. He is also required to have or expected to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing, whether they are the biological father of the child or the husband or partner of the mother.