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Employment Law Changes for 2011

Compensatory Awards increases effective from 1st February 2011

Maximum Basic Award£12,000
Maximum Weekly Rate (statutory redundancy rate)£400 per week
Maximum compensatory award for Unfair Dismissal£68,400
Guaranteed Pay (for lay off purposes)£22.20 per da

Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay

With effect from 3rd April the standard rate of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increased from £124.88 to £128.73

Additional paternity leave and pay

With effect from 3rd April employees who are fathers, spouses or partners of mothers, and employees who have been matched for adoption and are the spouses or partners of the person taking adoption leave are entitled to take additional paternity leave of up to 26 weeks in the first year of their child’s life or the first year after the child’s placement for adoption subject to certain rules. These employees may be entitled to additional paternity pay. This applies where the expected date of birth or the adoption matching date is on or after 3rd April.

Single equality duty

With effect from 6th April, pubic authorities will have to have regard to eliminate discriminatory conduct when undertaking and exercising their functions. This part of the Equality Act 2010 replaces the public sector single equality duty.

Increase in personal allowance and national insurance contributions for employees

With effect from 6th April, National Insurance contributions increased by one per cent for employees and there were also increases for the employer. The personal allowance for income tax for basic rate tax payers (below the age fo 65) increased by £1000.

Right to make a request in relation to study or training for organisations with fewer than 250 employees

With effect from 6th April this statutory right on the part of employees and obligation to consider on the part of the employer was extended to organisations with fewer that 250 employees.

Default retirement age abolished

This took effect from 6th April. Employers are now prohibited from issuing new notifications of retirement using the default retirement age. In order to continue to utilise a compulsory retirement age an employer has to test and demonstrate that it can be justified as ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.’

Right to request flexible working extended to parents of children under 18

With effect from 6th April, The Government granted parents of children under 18 the right to request flexible working.

Statutory sick pay

With effect from 6th April, the standard statutory sick pay rate increased from £79.15 to £81.60 per week.

Positive action (Equality Act 2010)

From 6th April, this section of the Equality Act came into force to allow employers to treat individuals with a protected characteristic more favourably than others in connection with recruitment or promotion. This only applies where candidates are of equal merit and where the more favourable treatment will enable/encourage an individual to overcome/minimise a disadvantage or participate in an activity where he or she is under-represented in that activity.

Annual limit on economic migration to the UK

From April, the number of people permitted to enter the UK from outside the EU is limited to 20,700 per annum under the skilled worker route (except for those earning a salary of more than £150,000 or in-country applications from those in the UK), and 1,000 per annum under the new exceptional talent route. Tier 2 (general) is open only to migrants performing jobs at graduate level. Tier 1 is limited to entrepreneurs, investors and the exceptionally talented. The minimum salary for individuals who wish to enter the UK under the intra-company transfer route for more than 12 months is £40,000 but there is no limit on the number of migrants in this category.

Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees (Amendment) Regulations 2010 came into force

From 5th June, the Regulations implemented new rights to European Works Council members and some others to undergo training to help them undertake their duties.

EU blue-card Directive implemented

From 19th June, the EU Blue Card Directive defined conditions of entry and residence for more than three months of people who are not EU citizens and apply to be admitted to the EU for the purpose of high-qualified employment.

National Minimum Wage

Following an increase on 1st October, the National Minimum Wage is as follows:

Age 21 or over: £6.08 + per hour

Age 18-21: £4.98 per hour

Age 16-17: £3.68 per hour.

Apprentices under 19 or over 19 but in first year of apprenticeship: £2.60 per hour.

Equal treatment for agency workers

From 1st October, the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 were implemented. This has given agency workers the same basic employment conditions after 12 weeks in a given job as if they had been employed directly by the end-user.

The proposed changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995

The Health and Safety Executive has opened a three-month consultation on proposed changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995.

Changes to RIDDOR were recommended in the Young report on health and safety published last year, which contained a proposal to increase the threshold for reporting workplace injuries to seven days.
Under current rules when an employee is absent from work for more than three days following an incident, employers are required to report the injury to the relevant enforcing authority - either HSE or the local council. The proposed amendment increases this 'over three day' period to over seven consecutive days.

The change would align the incident reporting threshold with that for obtaining a 'fit note' from a GP for sickness absence, and would ensure that someone who has suffered a reportable injury has had a professional medical assessment.

The consultation paper is available online at and the deadline for responses is 9 May 2011.

HSE will consider the responses and expects to submit recommendations to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

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