Various changes to employment law come into effect on Friday April 6 2012.  These include a rise in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal, changes to tribunal procedure and changes to health and safety reporting requirements.

The Unfair Dismissal and Statement of Reasons for Dismissal (Variation of Qualifying Period) Order 2012 will increase the minimum qualifying period of continuous employment necessary to claim unfair dismissal, and entitlement to written reasons for dismissal, from one year to two years.

However, this will not affect all employees. Employers could have two classes of employees with differing rights to claim unfair dismissal, as the changes will not affect employees whose period of continuous employment began before April 6.

There will also be some exceptions, as some dismissal rights do not need a qualification period. For example, an employee dismissed for whistle blowing, asserting a statutory right or for unlawful discriminatory reasons may automatically claim unfair dismissal, without needing a qualifying period.

The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 will increase the maximum amount of a deposit order a tribunal can order a party to pay as a condition of continuing with tribunal proceedings from  £500 to £1,000 and the maximum amount of costs order will increase from £10,000 to £20,000.  There will also be changes to some rules within the tribunal proceedings.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 have been amended to increase the required period of incapacity following an injury caused by an accident at work, triggering the employer’s requirement to report the accident to the enforcing authority, from more than three days to more than seven days. And the deadline by which the employer must report the accident increases from 10 days to 15 days.

From April 6 there will also be a rise in statutory sick pay from £81.60 to £85.85 and an increase to the lower earnings limit for primary Class 1 National Insurance contributions from £102 to £107.