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Employment Law Update - Spring 2009

This article lays out recent changes in the legislation concerning employment law. For any specific advice regarding employment law we recommend that you consult a specialist in this area.

Compensation Limits for unfair dismissal and redundancy - 1 February 2009
The maximum level of compensation for unfair dismissal and redundancy cases is set to increase from 1 February 2009. The new rate increase will only be applicable for dismissals falling on or after this date. The key changes are as follows:

  • A week's pay will be capped at £350 (previously £330) when calculating statutory redundancy payments, or basic awards in cases of unfair dismissal;
  • The maximum compensatory award at the Employment Tribunal will be £66,200 (previously £63,000);
  • The maximum statutory redundancy payment will be £10,500 (previously £9,900) although employers may enhance this payment if required.

Annual Holiday Entitlement - 1 April 2009
From 1 April 2009, the minimum annual holiday entitlement will increase from 4.8 weeks to 5.6 weeks. If you work five days a week this equates to 28 days paid holiday per annum inclusive of any public holidays. If you work part time then you are entitled to 5.6 times your normal working week.

Discipline, Dismissal and Grievance Handling - 6 April 2009
From 6 April the government abolished the statutory dispute resolution procedures which apply when dismissing employees and dealing with grievances. To replace these, ACAS have issued an updated code of practice which will have legal force.
The penalty for failure to comply with the ACAS code of practice could be:-

  • a finding of unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal, or
  • compensation award increased by up to 25%.

For grievances, employees will no longer be required to pursue a grievance through their employer's procedure before bringing a claim in an employment tribunal.

The revised code of practice now in force can be found on the ACAS website: http://www.acas.org.uk/dgcode2009.

Family Friendly Policies - 6 April 2009
Prior to 6 April parents of children aged 5 and under had the right to request flexible working arrangements as could parents of disabled children under 18 and carers of adult dependants. From 6 April 2009, parents of children aged 6 to 16 will also have the right to request such flexible working arrangements.

The employer is not obliged to agree to flexible working arrangements but must properly consider such a request, including meeting with the employee to discuss it and giving the employee the right of appeal against any decision to refuse a request. If an employee has made a request which has been refused they must wait 12 months before they can make another request for flexible working arrangements.

If the employer agrees to a request, the employee's contract is permanently changed to the revised hours/working pattern.

To be eligible to request flexible working arrangements the employee must have worked for the employer for a period of at least 26 weeks before they can make a request.

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