Expert tips on new HR laws for 2012-13

By: Jonathan Dale

Date: 10 April 2012

New law, new stress? Experts from Andrew Jackson Solicitors explain how to cope with this April’s new business law changes

Employment law

From 6 April, new employees who start work with you will need to put in two years’ work before they can claim for unfair dismissal. Rules for your existing staff don’t change - they can still claim after a year.

Jonathan Dale, head of the employment law team at Andrew Jackson, explains:

“Employers should review and record which employees the new law applies to, and to whom it doesn’t apply.

“In making that assessment, employers need to remember that if they dismiss an employee without giving proper notice then the employee can bring their statutory notice entitlement into account when calculating whether they have the qualifying service to claim unfair dismissal.

“It should also be borne in mind that the extension of the qualifying period does not mean that an employer can dispense with short-serving employees with impunity. The legal protection offered to employees under UK discrimination laws is not dependent on length of service.

“Whilst an employee who is arbitrarily dismissed may not have the requisite service to bring an unfair dismissal claim, he or she may have some basis to bring a discrimination claim. Employers should take legal advice if they are in any way unsure about the risks involved in dismissing a particular employee. ”

Accidents at work

New RIDDOR rules will change the reporting requirement for injuries so that, from 6 April 2012, only accidents resulting in incapacitation for more than seven days must be reported, and employers will have 15 days to do so. Previously, accidents resulting in incapacitation for more than three days had to be reported.

Jeff Swales, partner in the litigation and dispute resolution team at Andrew Jackson and member of the Health & Safety Lawyers Association, says:

“Employers should ensure that their health and safety documentation and procedures are updated to take account of these changes and that staff responsible for reporting accidents are made aware of the new system.

“Failure to report a reportable incident under RIDDOR is a criminal offence which may result in prosecution.”

Jonathan Dale and Jeff Swales of Andrew Jackson Solictors

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