New NMW Rates and Changes to Rights to an Unfair Dismissal Claim

New National Minimum Wage Rates

New National Minimum Wage hourly rates effective from 1 October 2012:

  • 21 year old and over £6.19
  • 18 to 20 year old £4.98 (no change)
  • 16 – 17 year old £3.68 (no change)
  • Apprentices £2.65
    The accommodation offset will increase to £4.82 per day.

Changes to Rights to an Unfair Dismissal Claim

Until 5 April 2012, employees acquired the right to raise an unfair dismissal claim once they had achieved one year’s continuous employment. The service requirement has now changed and anyone whose employment started on or after 6 April 2012 will not acquire that right until they have reached two years’ continuous employment.

However, there is no minimum service requirement for employees to bring certain claims before an employment tribunal. There is a long list of such potential claims, including those involving:

  • Whistleblowing
  • Health and safety representatives
  • Maternity/paternity
  • Trade union related dismissals
  • All discrimination claims
  • Wrongful dismissal (breach of contract)
  • Unlawful deduction from wages.

We may begin to see disgruntled employees who have insufficient service to claim unfair dismissal trying to justify one of these reasons to bring a claim against an employer, in order to raise employment tribunal proceedings.

To minimise risk, employers should:

  • Ensure that clear and robust staff policies are in place and enforced, including an equality policy
  • Ensure contracts of employment are up to date and compliant with current legislation
  • Follow fair and reasonable procedures when dealing with staff problems.

If you have a HR related query, please contact Fiona McArthur, Chiene + Tait’s HR Manager on 0131 558 5800 or email hr@chiene.co.uk