Yesterday a number of changes came into force in the world of employment law.  Employers should be aware of these changes, which are briefly summarised below:

1. ACAS early conciliation is available (although not yet mandatory)

Claimants can now speak to ACAS before an Employment Tribunal claim can be brought against their employer, to see if ACAS can agree a settlement to the potential dispute. At the moment, this is an optional service, but from 6 May 2014 this will be a mandatory step that every Claimant must take before they are entitled to bring an Employment Tribunal claim.

The ACAS website which contains useful information on this new service is available at:

2. The Employment Tribunal has power to impose financial penalties on employers

For cases presented after 6 April 2014, Tribunals have the power to order that a losing employer must pay a financial penalty in specified circumstances.  The Tribunal may order the employer to pay from £100 – £5,000 to the secretary of state where the case has “aggravating features”.  “Aggravating features” is not defined in the law, but is thought to mean where the employer has undertaken unreasonable behaviour, for instance where there is negligence or malice involved.

3. Discrimination Questionnaires have been abolished

Statutory discrimination questionnaires – the questionnaires that Claimants send to their employers either before, or just after bringing a discrimination claim in the Employment Tribunal, have been abolished.  In contrast to the old regime, no adverse inferences are to be drawn from an employer’s failure to respond, or failure to respond helpfully, to questions asked about discrimination in the workplace.  However, a Tribunal may look at whether and how an employer has answered questions, as a contributory factor in making their overall decision on a discrimination claim   ACAS has published a good practice guide as to how now to deal with questions regarding discrimination in the workplace:

4. Changes to rates

The maximum compensatory award that an Employment Tribunal can order in unfair dismissal cases has been increased to £76,574 (or 52 weeks’ pay, whichever is the lower).

The maximum weekly pay figure, used to calculate a redundancy payment and a basic award in the Tribunal, has been increased to £464.

The statutory maternity and paternity weekly pay rates have increased to £138.18.

Statutory Sick Pay has increased to £87.55 per week.


For further information on any of the changes above, please contact one of the Employmentor team.

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