Agenda 2012: Employment law key dates

Among this year's key employment law changes are: the increase in the qualifying period for bringing an unfair dismissal claim from one year to two years from 6 April 2012; substantial changes to employment tribunal procedure from 6 April 2012; and the requirement for larger employers to automatically enrol eligible employees into pension schemes from 1 October 2012. 


Legislation key dates


New tribunal award limits come into force
The limit on the amount of the compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases from £68,400 to £72,300 on 1 February 2012. 


Qualifying period for unfair dismissal protection is increased
The qualifying period for an employee to bring an unfair dismissal claim increases from one year to two years. This change comes into force on 6 April 2012. 

Changes to employment tribunal procedure
The Government has announced a "fundamental review" of the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure, with substantial changes to employment tribunal procedure expected to be introduced on 6 April 2012. 

Maternity, paternity and adoption pay are increased
The standard rates of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increases from £128.73 to £135.45 per week from 1 April 2012. 

Rate of statutory sick pay is increased
The standard rate of statutory sick pay increases from £81.60 to £85.85 per week on 6 April 2012. 


Pensions auto-enrolment begins
Starting from 1 October 2012, large employers have to enrol eligible employees automatically, and make mandatory employer contributions, into a qualifying workplace pension scheme or the National Employment Savings Trust (Nest). 

National minimum wage may rise
The national minimum wage may rise on 1 October 2012, subject to the prevailing economic conditions and the Low Pay Commission's recommendations to be delivered to the Government in February 2012. 


Consultations 2012

Consultations that remain open in the first months of 2012 include: proposals for the introduction of employment tribunal fees; and calls for evidence over whether or not the law on TUPE and collective redundancy consultation should be amended to reduce the burden on businesses. The Government has announced that in 2012 it will consult on reforming the law on employment disputes and removing the third-party harassment provisions of the Equality Act 2010. 


Consultation on employment tribunal fees
The Ministry of Justice is consulting on the introduction of fees for bringing an employment tribunal claim, with fees planned both for lodging a tribunal claim and a claim proceeding to a hearing. 

Call for evidence on TUPE
The Government has launched a call for evidence on the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE). It seeks to determine whether or not there is scope to improve implementation of the Acquired Rights Directive and reduce burdens on businesses, while continuing to protect employees. 

Call for evidence on collective redundancy consultation
The Government has launched a call for evidence on the advantages and disadvantages of the rules on collective redundancy consultation. 

Consultation on modernising the personal tax system
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is consulting on increasing the transparency of the personal tax system, which includes PAYE and income tax self assessment. 


Consultation on reforming the law on employment disputes
The Government has announced that it will consult on a range of measures to reform the law on employment disputes. 

Consultation on integrating income tax and national insurance
Following a call for evidence carried out in 2011, the Government has announced that it will consult on integrating the operation of income tax and national insurance contributions. 

Consultation reviewing third-party harassment
The Government has said that it will consult on removing the requirement for employers to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment of their employees by third parties.