A number of important employment law changes came into effect on 6 April 2012. 

In particular:

  • The unfair dismissal qualifying period increased from one year to two years.  This increase will only affect employees who start work for you on or after 6 April 2012;
  • The maximum deposit a Tribunal can order a party to pay if their case has little reasonable prospect of success increased from £500 to £1,000;
  • The maximum amount of costs a Tribunal can award (without reference to the Courts) increased from £10,000 to £20,000;
  • Unfair dismissal cases will now be heard by a Judge sitting alone, as opposed to alongside two lay tribunal members;
  • Where witness statements are used, they will be “taken as read”, and stand as evidence in chief, without having to be read out by the witness, unless the Judge determines otherwise.

Further, increases were made to a number of statutory payments, as follows:

  • Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increased on 1 April 2012 from £128.73 to £135.45;
  • Statutory sick pay increased on 6 April 2012 from £81.60 to £85.85;
  • Maternity allowance increased on 9 April 2012 from £128.73 to £135.45.