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New jobs laws ahead

    As the new year starts, it is fashionable to look ahead to what the next twelve months have in store. For employers and employees, the challenge will be to keep track of the changes in employment laws.
    l Parental leave increases — the parental leave period is being increased from three months to four months. Expected implementation date, March 2013.

    1. Introduction of portable DBS checks — once a Disclosure and Barring Service check (previously a CRB check) has been conducted, the results will be available online, enabling employers to confirm that no new information has been added since the check was originally made, and meaning an employee will not have to obtain a new check each time they start a new job. Expected implementation date is March 2013.

    2. Removal of legal aid — legal aid is being withdrawn for most employment claims in England and Wales. Legal aid remains for advice and assistance in relation to claims under the Equality Act prior to tribunal proceedings. Implementation date to be confirmed.

    3. School leaving age is going up — duty on all young people in England to participate in education or training until the age of 17 (increasing to 18 in 2015). Implementation date to be confirmed.

    4. New “Employee–Owner” employment contracts — employees can be given between £2,000 and £50,000 of shares in the business which will be exempt from capital gains tax.
    In exchange, the employee agrees to forego certain employment rights, such as “normal” unfair dismissal protection after two years continuous service and statutory redundancy pay. Expected implementation date, April 2013.

    5. Redundancy consultation regime changes — these will impact all businesses proposing to make 20 or more employees redundant in one establishment within a period of 90 days or more.
    For redundancies of more than 100 employees, the consultation period is being reduced from 90 to 45 days. This aim is to enable employers to restructure businesses quicker. Expected implementation, April 2013.

    6. New Employment Tribunal costs — claimants at employment tribunals will have to pay both an issue fee (between £160 and £230) and hearing fee (£250 or £950). Tribunals will have discretionary power to impose financial penalties on employers who lose a tribunal claim. Implementation dates to be confirmed.

    Jonathan Cantor is a partner at Nabarro law firm

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