Guest Blogpost from Richard Lynch: Employment rights’ roundup

Statutory redundancy pay, for most people, is calculated on the basis of a week’s pay per year served. However those under age 22 only get a half week’s pay per year and those aged 41 and over get one and  half weeks’ per year. Only 20 years’ service can be taken into account and there is a cap on what can be claimed for each week. That cap has been £400 a week for the past year but it was increased to £430 a week from 1 February 2012. The absolute maximum anybody can get in statutory redundancy is now £12,900 (20 years X 1.5 weeks’ a year X £430).

Unfair dismissal compensation paid by Employment Tribunals involves a basic award which is calculated in the same way as statutory redundancy and has the same cap on what you can claim for a week’s pay. A compensatory award may also be made, to compensate you for what you have lost since being dismissed. The maximum compensatory award had been £68,400 but this has been increased to £72,300 from 1 February 2012.

The qualifying period for unfair dismissal protection is currently one year, which means that you can only make a claim for unfair dismissal if you have been employed for 12 months or more. However, the qualifying period will increase to two years from 6 April 2012 and anybody dismissed over the coming period will have to be careful not to fall foul of this change.

Statutory maternity pay, paternity pay and adoption pay will be increased from £128.73 a week to £135.45 a week with effect from 1 April 2012. Statutory sick pay will be increased from £81.60 to £85.85 a week from 6 April 2012.

Protective awards can be made by Employment Tribunals in cases where employers planning redundancies do not consult properly with unions or with employee representatives elected for consultation purposes. Up to 90 days pay can be awarded to redundant workers, both as compensation for denial of their consultation rights and as a punishment for the employer who has not consulted properly. Readers will have been delighted by the recent USDAW announcement that thousands of redundant Woolworths’ workers are to share in a £67.8 million protective award following a complaint to a Tribunal. It is to be regretted, however, that some from small stores will not receive any award because collective rights do not apply in workplaces with fewer than 20 workers.

An award of £933,115 has been made to Unite member Elliot Brown after an Employment Tribunal found that he had been unfairly dismissed and subjected to systematic discrimination, bullying and harassment by an NHS Trust in Manchester. This is one of the largest ET awards yet and it should serve as a warning to employers that discrimination, bullying and harassment have no place in the workplace.

Richard Lynch is a Dudden Hill resident. He is a retired Unite the Union official and currently conducts voluntary work on employment rights for the Brent Community Law Centre. He also acts as an accompanying representative for the GMB union.

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