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New employment laws come into effect

The beginning of the new tax year saw the introduction of a number of legislative changes affecting employers.

The new ‘early conciliation’ regime was introduced on 6 April 2014 (with some aspects taking effect from 6 May), and requires that employees seeking to bring a tribunal claim against their employer must first contact Acas with a view to attempting to reach a settlement.

In addition, tribunals can now impose financial penalties on employers who are found to have breached employees’ rights. Penalties range from £100 to £5,000 and will normally amount to 50% of the sum awarded at an employment tribunal.

6 April also sees an increase in the limit placed on compensatory awards for unfair dismissal, together with increases in the rates of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay, as well as statutory sick pay (SSP). The percentage threshold scheme for SSP is also abolished from this date.

Meanwhile, the introduction of the new Employment Allowance has been welcomed by many businesses.

Under the new scheme, from 6 April 2014 nearly all employers will be able to reduce their national insurance contributions (NICs) bill by up to £2,000.

Up to 1.25 million businesses, charities and community amateur sports clubs are expected to benefit from the Employment Allowance, with 450,000 being taken out of the tax altogether.