As we embark upon 2015, it would seem an appropriate time to just catch our breath and summarise some of the key employment law developments in the year that was, 2014.
31 January 2014
Changes to TUPE and TULRCA
Several changes to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (“TUPE”) and the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (“TULRCA”) came into effect on 31 January 2014, subject to transitional provisions. These included:
- A transferor now being required to notify a transferee of employee liability information 28 days before a TUPE transfer (where the transfer took place from 1 May 2014) as opposed to 14 days.
- A contractual change of workplace no longer being rendered void by TUPE. Further, if an employee is dismissed owing to a change of workplace, it will not always be rendered automatically unfair by TUPE.
- A micro-business being permitted, in certain circumstances, to inform and consult directly with employees directly about a TUPE transfee (where the transfer took place from 31 July 2014).
- Confirming that a collective redundancy consultation by a transferee with transferring employees can begin before a TUPE transfer takes place and count for the purposes of collective redundancy rules and minimum consultation periods.
6 April 2014
Increase to Tribunal award limits
The statutory cap on the compensatory award in a standard unfair dismissal claim increased from £74,200 to £76,574 (or 52 weeks’ gross pay if less).
The statutory cap on a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating certain awards, including statutory redundancy pay and the basic award in an unfair dismissal claim increased from £450 to £464.
Financial penalties for employers in Tribunal
Where an employer loses a claim in the Employment Tribunal and the case has “aggravating features”, the Tribunal has the power to order the employer to pay a financial penalty of between £100 and £5000 to the Secretary of State.
Abolition of statutory discrimination questionnaires
The statutory questionnaire procedure used by employees or job applicants to ask questions of an employer in relation to an alleged act of discrimination which took place wholly on or after 6 April 2014 was abolished.
However, it was replaced with an informal approach, which is supported by ACAS guidance. For discriminatory acts which took place / began before 6 April 2014, the statutory questionnaire procedure could still be used.
6 May 2014
Pre-claim mandatory conciliation
In the majority of cases, a Claimant must comply with a duty to submit details of their claim to ACAS with a view to participating in early conciliation before they are permitted to commence legal proceedings in the Employment Tribunal.
30 June 2014
Right to request flexible working
The statutory right to make a flexible working request was extended to all employees with 26 weeks’ service, as opposed to just those employees with caring responsibilities.
Further, the statutory regime for flexible working was abolished in favour of a statutory code of practice.
22 July 2014
Badly drafted restrictive covenants
In the case of Prophet plc v Huggett  IRLR 797 the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s earlier decision to read additional wording into a badly drafted restrictive covenant in order to make it commercially viable. The Court of Appeal found that the clause in question was unambiguously clear and as such it was not for the Court to “re-make” the parties’ bargain even if it resulted in “a toothless restrictive covenant”. The employer had “made…..it’s bed and it must now lie upon it”.
1 October 2014
Increase to national minimum wage
The national minimum wage was increased, which included an increase to the minimum wage for workers aged 21 or over from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour.
Equal pay and compulsory audits
Employment Tribunals have the power to order an employer, who has been found liable for breaching equal pay rights to carry out an equal pay audit and publish the results of the completed audit on the employer’s website.
Time off to accompany partner to antenatal appointments
A father or partner is entitled to take unpaid time off to accompany their pregnant wife or partner to two antenatal appointments. The time off is capped at 6.5 hours for each appointment.
4 November 2014
Statutory holiday pay
The Employment Appeal Tribunal handed down its decision in the case of Bear Scotland Ltd v Fulton and another UKEATS0047/13.
The case dealt with a number of issues and included a finding that statutory holiday pay derived from the Working Time Directive (20 days) should be calculated by reference to “normal pay”. This can comprise more than just basic salary and in the instant case, it should have included regular non-guaranteed overtime and travel time payments. This finding followed a decision made earlier in the year in Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd C-539/12 which provided that commission should be taken into account when calculating statutory holiday pay derived from the Working Time Directive.
The case of Bear Scotland also dealt with how far back workers could claim underpaid holiday where it was alleged to form part of a series of an unlawful deduction from wages. It was held that any underpayment that is separated from a later underpayment by more than 3 months was out of time and could not be claimed.
1 December 2014
Shared parental leave and pay
Shared parental leave and pay is available to parents in respect of children expected to be born or placed with them for adoption from 5 April 2015. Eligible employees will be entitled to share a maximum of 52 weeks’ leave and 39 weeks’ statutory pay.
Please note that this summary is not intended to be exhaustive and should not be taken as legal advice on any of the subjects covered. If however you do require legal advice on the subjects covered or any employment law matters please contact Philip Minnis on 020 7955 1508 or firstname.lastname@example.org