Businesses in the UK are being urged to be aware of changes to employment law that come into effect this week.  Human resources firm, HR Heroes, says the the rule changes are diverse, covering everyday areas from maternity pay and auto-enrolment to employment tribunals and discrimination.

Many smaller companies, especially, remain unaware of the changes and risk falling foul of the new employment legislation as a result.

The main changes to employment law, which come into effect on 6 April, include:

· Statutory increases to maternity pay, ordinary and additional paternity pay, and statutory adoption pay rates. The new pay rates have increased from £136.78 to £138.18.
· Employees with grievances are now initially required to lodge the details of their proposed tribunal with ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). ACAS will then have up to one month to achieve a settlement between the claimant and employer. If no settlement is achieved, a formal tribunal claim can proceed.
· Employment tribunals now have the power to increase the compensation award to successful claimants when the employer’s breach of employment law has “one or more aggravating features”. The increase can be up to 50% of the initial award.
· A number of tribunal award limits are being increased. For example, the maximum award for unfair dismissal has increased to £76,575 (an increase of £2374).
· The statutory procedure that allows an employee to obtain information from their employer about discrimination that they can use as evidence at an employment tribunal has been repealed. Once again, this tweak of the rules is trying to get employees and employers to resolve any issues without the need to go to a tribunal.

In addition to the changes above, as of 1 April 2014, the time period for employers enrolling eligible workers into a qualified pension scheme will increase from one month to six weeks.

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