Here is a quick reminder of some changes on the way in the next few months:
- On 1 February 2010 the upper limit for unfair dismissal compensation reduces from £66,200 to £65,300. This is the first time ever the upper limit has been reduced, and is due to an equally unusual fall in the retail prices index over the relevant period.
- New legislation outlawing blacklists for union-related activities is expected to come into force in the next few months.
- Legislation to restrict the use of contingency fees in the employment tribunal is also likely within the same time frame.
- Before the end of the spring we may see the replacement of the old-style GP's sick notes with a new electronic "fit note".
- On 4 April the prescribed weekly rate for SMP and similar benefits will increase to £124.88. There will be no rise in the SSP rate.
The following provisions are expected to come into effect on 6 April:
- The introduction of a new right to request time off to train. The regulations have not been published yet, but are likely to mirror the flexible working requirements. The new rules will not oblige employers to pay training fees or for any time taken off.
- Raising the minimum age at which a pension can be taken from 50 to 55.
- Increasing the penalties for breaches of the Data Protection Act, with the maximum fine rising to £500,000.
- Amending the employment tribunal rules of procedures so that, if the claimant consents, details of protected disclosures incorporated in the ET1 are sent direct to the relevant regulator by the Tribunals Service.
Looking slightly further ahead, the Equality Bill is now at the committee stage in the House of Lords, having been passed by the House of Commons. It is uncertain whether it will become law before the general election, but if it does, most of its provisions are likely to take effect in October.