Maximum Penalties and Awards Update, More Rights for Workers - by Stephen Britton, Head of Employment Law

On 6th April 2019 there were a host of Employment Law changes made due to new regulations being introduced.

Increased Maximum Penalty
First, regulations have been introduced to increase the maximum penalty to employers who have committed an aggravated breach of employment law. In the past, any breach carried the risk of a tribunal ordering a penalty of £5,000 as a maximum. As of April 2019, this has been increased to £20,000. Aggravating features are not specifically defined in the Act and depend on the size of the employer, the length of the breach and the actions of the employer. Bearing in mind the risk of receiving a sizeable penalty, employers should seek legal advice on any employment issues as soon as possible.

New Statutory Rates
There have been several increases in statutory limits relating to the following:

    • The limit of a week’s pay used to calculate certain statutory payments has risen from £508 to £525 (gross pay amount).
    • The “cap” on maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissals has increased from £83,682 to £86,444.
    • Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay has increased from £145.18 to £146.68 per week.
    • Statutory sick pay (SSP) has increased from £92.05 to £94.25 per week (however in order to qualify for SSP, the amount a worker must earn on average per week has also increased to £118)

Updated Vento Bands
Vento bands are tiered values for compensation for damages payable to feeling and psychiatric injury which are awarded by the Employment Tribunals of England, Wales and Scotland. Since April 6th 2019, the new compensation bands have been:

    • Lower Band- £900- £8,800 for less serious cases
    • Middle Band- £8,800 - £26,300 for cases that do not merit the upper band
    • Upper Band - £26,300- £44,000 for the most serious cases
    • Exceptional cases are capable of exceeding £44,000

Increased National Minimum Wage Rates
Since April 1st 2019, national minimum wage hourly rates are the following:

    • Workers aged 25 and over are £8.21
    • Workers aged 21-24 are £7.70
    • Workers aged 18-20 are £6.15
    • Workers aged 18 and under are £4.35
    • Apprentices are £3.90*

*please note: entitlement to the Apprentice rate is based on the age of the individual and whether they have completed the first year of their apprenticeship

Itemised Pay Slips
Since April 6th 2019, the following amendments have been in place regarding payslips:

    • Workers have the legal right to itemised payslips when paid hourly, to show the number of hours paid for. This right has previously only been available to employees.
    • A worker who thinks they have not received a pay slip which has this information on may make a claim.

Looking ahead to 2020, we already know that as of 6th April 2020, an employer will be required to supply a written statement of terms to all workers on or before the first day of their employment. Currently, a written statement must be provided to employees within 2 months of the employment starting.

Also coming into force on 6th April 2020, the Working Time Regulations 1998 will be amended to increase the reference period for determining an average week’s pay (for those who do not have normal working hours) from 12 weeks to 52 weeks, or the number of complete weeks for which the worker has been employed.

With Brexit looming, further developments in Employment Law are also likely to be on the horizon.

If you have any questions regarding these changes please contact us on 0800 542 4245, email us on or call in to one of our offices.

Alternatively, please use our Employment Law Chat Bot.

For more details on the New Employment Law Facts & Figures April 2019 click here.

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