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Hewetts Legal Corner - March 2014 #5

Employment Law Updates

Tribunal award limits to increase

On 06th April 2014, tribunal compensation limits will increase. The maximum amount of a week’s pay used for the purposes of calculating redundancy payments or various awards including the basic award for unfair dismissal is currently capped at £450 and this will increase to £464. The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal is currently £74,200 and this will increase to £76,574. These new limits will apply where the effective date of termination is on or after 06th April 2014.

Maternity allowance for women doing unpaid work in a partner’s business

Regulations providing for a new maternity allowance for women working in an unpaid capacity in the business of their husband or civil partner are intended to come into force on 01st April 2014.

The approved Regulations are named the Social Security (Maternity Allowance) (Participating Wife or Civil Partner or Self-employed Earner) Regulations 2014. Women who give birth on or after 27th July 2014 will be eligible to receive a weekly maternity allowance where they work in an unpaid capacity in the business of a self-employed spouse or civil partner. The maternity allowance rate will be set at 90 percent of the amount of the maternity allowance threshold for the tax year in which the week ends (currently equates to £27 per week). The maternity allowance will be payable for a maximum of 14 weeks.

Recommendations on new minimum wage rates

The Low Pay Commission has recommended in its 2014 report that the adult rate of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) be increased to £6.50 per hour with effect from 01st October 2014. This is yet to be confirmed and therefore a further update will be provided when the rate for 01st October 2014 is confirmed. The current NMW rate is £6.31 (for workers ages 21 and over).

Employers initial refusal to make reasonable adjustments

The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) considered whether a reasonable adjustments claim (which was bought by the Claimant more than 3 months after the Employer’s refusal to make the adjustment requested), was out of time in Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Jobcentre Plus) v Jamil and others.

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled person who is at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with those who are not disabled. Failure to make reasonable adjustments may amount to discrimination, however the claim must be submitted to the Tribunal by the Claimant before the end of the period of 3 months starting with the date the act or omission occurred. Acts occurring more than 3 months before the claim is brought may still form the basis of the claim provided that they are part of a continuing act and the claim is brought within 3 months of the end of that period.

In this case, the Claimant became disabled due to rheumatoid arthritis and struggled to get to her place of work which was over an hour away. The Employer initially refused to transfer her to an office which was closer to her home on the basis that there was no vacancy at the office closer to her home. The Claimant brought a tribunal claim arguing that the Employer had discriminated against her by failing to make the reasonable adjustment.

The real reason that the Claimant had not been offered a transfer to the closer office was because her husband worked in that office rather than the reason that there were no vacancies at that office and thus her claim succeeded. The EAT held that this failure was an “ongoing failure” to make a reasonable adjustment and this did not start time running for the employee to bring a disability discrimination claim.

This decision departs from previous case law however which decided that a failure of this duty was an “omission” and not a “continuing act” meaning that there was a date from which the timeframe for bringing a claim would begin to run.

Spent c
onvictions to become spent sooner

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will amend the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 on 10th March 2014 to reduce the rehabilitation periods which are required to pass before offenders can claim to have a clean record and which offenders must declare a previous conviction to prospective employers.

There will be no change to the convictions of offenders of specified sexual or violent offences and these will still never become spent.

Anyone who wishes to seek advice on any of the issues herein or if you have any queries pertaining to the above, please contact Sally Morris buy email to or by telephone on 01905 734032

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