Employment Update for Small Businesses
This month we report on a new type of statutory leave which will take effect next year – the right to paid bereavement leave. We also review the latest employment tribunal statistics which show some dramatic, but not unexpected, increases since the removal of fees.
Please contact me if you would like to find out a bit more about any of the subjects raised in this update or if you need any help or advice.
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Parents entitled to bereavement leave when they lose a child
The new Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 has been passed and will come into effect from April 2020. Under the Act employees who have lost a child under the age of 18 will be entitled to 2 weeks off work (Those with at least 26 weeks’ service will also be entitled to statutory bereavement pay). The exact details, including the level of pay for this period have not yet been released; we will update you as soon as we have further information. We anticipate that the level of pay is likely to match other statutory types of leave, such as paternity and maternity leave (currently £145.18 per week), and that this will be reclaimable by employers.
At the moment some of this leave may fall under the statutory right to time off for dependants which is available for all employees. This is defined as ‘a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with unforeseen matters and emergencies involving a dependant, including leave to arrange or attend a funeral’. A ‘dependant’ could be a spouse, partner, child, parent or anyone living in the household. As this is unpaid, and is not specifically intended to give time off for grieving, it is of limited use in this sort of situation.
Some organisations have a compassionate leave policy, but currently it is up to the employer to determine how much time off to provide, and whether or not to pay for it.
This new Act will mean there is consistency given to bereaved parents to ensure they receive a minimum period of paid bereavement leave.
Employment Tribunal Claims Increase by 165%
Removal of tribunal fees leads to rise in claims
The Ministry of Justice has recently released statistics relating to employment tribunal claims for the period April to July 2018. This shows a huge increase in the number of claims compared with the same quarter last year, which was the last quarter during which fees were still being charged for lodging claims (fees were abolished in July 2017).
Single claims (i.e. those brought by individuals rather than collective claims, which are often brought by trade unions on behalf of members) rose by 165%. This has created a huge backlog of claims and HM Courts and Tribunal Service is now recruiting new employment judges in response.
During this period, the average award in successful unfair dismissal claims was £15,007. The average award in discrimination cases was the highest at £30,700 whilst the average award in religious discrimination cases was the lowest at £5,100.
This reinforces the need for employers to be cautious whenever considering terminating employment, or if facing tricky employment issues, such as grievances or disciplinary matters, as the removal of fees has made it much easier for claims to be brought, irrespective of their merits.
National Minimum and Living Wage Rates
The current National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates are:
£7.83 per hour for workers aged 25 and over
£7.38 per hour for workers aged 21 to 24
£5.90 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20
£4.20 per hour for workers aged 16 and 17
£3.70 per hour for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year*
*N.B. Apprentices over 19 and who have completed at least one year are entitled to the appropriate rate for their age.