A number of employment law changes will be taking place in April 2011. The key ones for employers are as follows:

Abolition of the Default Retirement Age

The statutory Default Retirement Age is on its way out. Employers cannot safely issue new notifications of retirement using the DRA after 5 April 2011. There will be a transitional period for any retirements already underway.

Additional Paternity Leave and Pay

There will be new rights for fathers (and in certain circumstances adopters) to take Additional Paternity Leave and receive Additional Statutory Paternity Pay.

These new rights apply to fathers where the child is born on or after 3 April 2011.

Tax treatment of post-P45 termination payments

From 6 April 2011, employers making taxable termination payments after the P45 has been issued will no longer be able to deduct tax at basic rate only. They will be required to deduct tax using a new tax code (OT) which gives no personal allowance and requires deductions at basic rate (20%), higher rate (40%) and additional rate (50%).

Equality Act changes

The new general public sector Equality Duty will come into force on 5 April 2011. The specific duties were due to come into force on 6 April 2011, but the Government is currently consulting on these and they are now likely to come into force in July 2011.

The new positive action provisions in recruitment or promotion will also come into force on 6 April 2011. These give employers the ability in certain circumstances to select someone from an under-represented group when it has the choice between two or more candidates who are of “equal merit”.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s statutory Codes of Practice will also come into force on 6 April 2011. These provide guidance for employers on complying with their obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

Increases to statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay

Statutory maternity, adoption and paternity pay will increase from £124.88 to £128.73 with effect from 3 April 2011. The new rate will also apply to Additional Statutory Paternity Pay. This rate will also apply to Maternity Allowance and will come into force with effect from 11 April 2011.

Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £79.15 to £81.60 with effect from 6 April 2011.

The following provisions will no longer be coming into force in April, as originally planned:

  • Flexible working: The Government has decided not to extend the right to request flexible working to parents with children under 18. It will therefore remain the case that only parents with children under 17 or, if disabled, under 18 will be able to make a request (and carers).
  • Right to request time off to study or train: The right for employees to request time off to study or train will not be extended to small employers. It will continue to apply to employers with 250 or more staff.
  • Dual discrimination provisions: These would have given claimants the ability to bring a discrimination claim in relation to a combination of two protected characteristics. These will not now be taken forward.
  • The Bribery Act 2010: This was due to come into force in April, but will now come into force on 1 July 2011.