Various pieces of legislation came into force in early April 2019.  The common, and unsurprising, theme among all these legislative changes is that they increase the statutory minimum amounts employers must pay to their staff and increase awards available to the Employment Tribunal.  We have set out below a summary of these key increases all of which are now fully effective.

Statutory sick and family leave pay

Under the Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2019, employers must increase minimum weekly payments to eligible employees as follows:

  • as of 6 April 2019, statutory sick pay must now be a weekly payment of £94.25; and
  • as of 7 April 2019, family leave-related pay must now be a weekly payment of £148.68.

Tribunal awards

On 6 April 2019, both the Employment Rights (Increase of Limited) Order 2019 and the Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 came into force, resulting in the below increases to awards and penalties now available to Employment Tribunals:

  • the maximum limit on a week’s pay, including for the purposes of calculating statutory redundancy, has increased to £525;
  • the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal claims is now £86,444;
  • the minimum basic award for certain unfair dismissal (including dismissal for reasons of union membership and acting as a staff representative) has risen to £6,408; and
  • the maximum penalty for an aggravated breach of employment law is now £20,000, up from the previous maximum of £5,000.

In addition to the above, an addendum to the Presidential Guidance on bands of damages for injury to feelings (Vento bands) has been issued, which increases the potential damages that the Tribunal can award for claims presented on or after 6 April 2019. The Vento bands are now as follows: a lower band of £900 to £8,800 for cases such as a one-off act; a middle band of £8,800 to £26,300 for more serious one-off acts of harassment or loss of job due to discrimination; and an upper band for the most serious cases of discrimination of £26,300 to £44,000, with the most exceptional cases, such as a sustained course of harassment, capable of exceeding £44,000.

National living and minimum wage

Further to our blog post in early March, under the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2019, the increases to hourly rates took effect from 1 April 2019.

What do employers need to do?

The above increases have already come into force so employers must ensure they have implemented these changes, and from the correct dates. Employers should think about the mechanics of backdating payments to the relevant effective date to ensure employees or workers do not have claims for unpaid wages.  Employers facing a potential claim in the Tribunal should keep in mind the above increases to awards as, no doubt, claimant solicitors will be sure to mention these increases in any pre-claim settlement discussions.