• The limits applying to tribunal awards and other amounts payable under employment legislation increased from 1 February 2008. The maximum “week’s pay”, for the purposes of calculating a basic award in an unfair dismissal case or for calculating an entitlement to a statutory redundancy payment, increased from £310 to £330; the maximum basic award for unfair dismissal and the maximum statutory redundancy payment rose from £9,300 to £9,900; and the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increased from £60,600 to £63,000 (save in certain circumstances).
• Changes to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 were expected this month but are still awaited. The Government must implement new regulations imminently to ensure UK compliance with the European Equal Treatment Directive.
• Statutory rates of sick pay will rise from £72.55 to £75.40 per week, and rates for maternity, paternity and adoption pay from £112.75 to £117.18 per week.
• The Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 will extend to organisations employing 50 people or more, as will the obligations on employers to engage in consultation with staff before making changes to occupational and personal pension schemes.
• The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 will allow prosecutions against employers where worker fatalities can be attributed to management failures.
• Any increase in the national minimum wage will be effective (amount to be confirmed).
• Immigration: a radical overhaul of current legislation is expected over the next five years, starting in February 2008 with the introduction of new penalties (criminal and civil) for employers who take on illegal workers and, by March, the first stage of a new points-based immigration system.
• Discrimination: 2008 is likely to see further progress with the Government’s plans to replace existing discrimination law with a single Equality Act.
• Disciplinary procedures – as the Employment Bill continues through Parliament in 2008, further detail regarding its provisions, among which are significant changes to handling disciplinary hearings and grievances, will emerge, although it will not be implemented until 2009.
• Flexible working: consultation is expected during 2008 regarding the extension of current flexible working rights to parents of older children.
• Agency workers: following Europe’s surprise backdown in its pursuit of increased employment rights for agency workers, this topic will be back on the political agenda both here and elsewhere in Europe for 2008.