What does 2011 have in store?

7 January 2011

Default retirement age

The consultation on the government’s proposals to abolish the DRA closed on 21 October 2010 and, although the response to the consultation was expected “before Christmas”, it is now due later this month. Under the proposals employers giving notice of retirement after 5 April 2011 will no longer be able to rely on the DRA.

Limits on tribunal awards to increase from 1 February 2011

Notably, the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise from £65,300 to £68,400 and the maximum amount of a week’s pay, used to calculate statutory redundancy pay (among other things), will rise from £380 to £400.

New statutory payment rates from 11 April 2011

The proposed rates of statutory benefits which are expected to apply from 11 April 2011, including:

  • Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay. From £124.88 to £128.73. The weekly earnings threshold for these payments will rise from £97 to £102.
  • Statutory Sick Pay. From £79.15 to £81.60, with the weekly earnings threshold also rising from £97 to £102.
  • Maternity allowance. From £124.88 to £128.73, with the earnings threshold remaining at £30.

Unfair dismissal qualifying period

The government is currently considering whether to increase the period of qualifying service required for “ordinary” unfair dismissal claims from one to two years. The decision is likely to be some months off but is eagerly awaited. The common view is that it will merely cause an increase in discrimination and “protected reason” unfair dismissal claims.

Agency worker regulations 2010

The government has announced that it will not be amending the current draft regulations before they come into force in October 2011. Please see here for a summary of the provisions.

Right to representation at disciplinary hearings

In April 2011 the Supreme Court is due to consider the Court of Appeal’s ruling in R (on the application of G) v X School and others that a teaching assistant was entitled to legal representation during disciplinary proceedings for sexual misconduct with a child. The decision was based on Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a fair trial) being engaged which, given the seriousness of the charge and its likely effect in ending his career, included the right to legal representation. If upheld this is likely to have a much wider interpretation.

The FSA’s remuneration code

The original code and the revised code (effective from January 1 2011) have at their cores the requirement that a firm “must establish, implement and maintain remuneration policies, procedures and practices that are consistent with and promote effective risk management”. To put this into effect, the revised code sets out the rules and guidance dealing with the structure of remuneration, its governance and the methods of performance measurement used to determine performance-related bonuses. Please see here for a summary of the provisions.