In this month’s round-up of recent employment law news we consider upcoming employment law developments to look out for, new minimum wage rates effective from 1 October 2012 and a recent report on the levels of compensation awarded for discrimination complaints during 2011.

Employment Law: In the pipeline

Over the coming months there will be plenty to keep HR personnel and employment lawyers on their toes. Look out for the following:

  • The passage of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill 2012 - 2013 through Parliament. The Bill includes a number of reforms to Employment Law, including a mandatory pre-claim conciliation procedure and a power to vary the statutory cap on compensatory awards in unfair dismissal cases.
  • Consultations are expected on:
  • Mr Justice Underhill’s proposals to amend the Tribunal rules of procedure;
  • the use and effectiveness of Compromise Agreements, including a system of "protected conversations"; and
  • a review of the current remissions system in the Courts for Tribunal claimants who cannot afford the soon to be introduced Tribunal fees.
  • The closing of the consultation on collective redundancies (which includes the proposal to reduce the minimum consultation period) on 19 September 2012.
  • The Government’s response to the Modern Workplace Consultation (which includes proposals for the extension of flexible working rights and a new system of flexible parental leave).
  • Judgements in the high profile cases of Ladele and MacFarlane (and others) vs The United Kingdom following the European Court of Human Rights hearing these cases (which concerned the possible breach of the right to manifest religion or belief) earlier this month.

New minimum wage rates – 1 October 2012

With effect from 1 October 2012, the following minimum wage rates will apply:

  • £6.19 per hour – standard adult rate (workers aged 21 and over);
  • £4.98 per hour – development rate (workers aged between 18 and 20);
  • £3.68 per hour - young workers rate (workers aged under 18 but above the compulsory school age who are not apprentices);
  • £2.65 per hour – apprentice rate; and
  • £4.82 – the accommodation offset.

Compensation Survey reveals hefty discrimination awards

The Equal Opportunities Review ("EOR") has published the findings of its recent survey of compensation awards in a selection of 2011 discrimination cases. The findings are published in EOR’s August 2012 publication and include:

  • two cases where significant awards were made. In one such case (which concerned discrimination on grounds of sex and race and unfair dismissal), an award of £4.5 million was made and in the other (a race discrimination case), an award of almost £1 million was made;
  • an increase in the average total award of compensation in discrimination cases (to £38,848) but a decrease in the median total award to (£7,518). The median is a better indicator of what claimants can expect to be awarded in a discrimination case;
  • an increase in the average award for injury to feelings in discrimination cases to £6,287 but no change from last year to the median award for injury to feelings which remained at £5,000 (an award which falls within the low Vento band).