News Archive for December, 2011

PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR EMPLOYERS RE: Employment law changes

Following November’s Autumn Statement, HR law for employers has changed as have pension rules.

In very brief, here’s a practical guide for employers regarding important employment law changes – what you need to know and what you need to do now – plus advance warning on key dates for your 2012 diary.

Unfair dismissal qualifying period to rise

At the moment, employees can usually only bring a claim for unfair dismissal if they have been continuously employed for one year at the time their job is terminated. However, as from 6 April 2012, the Government has announced the qualifying period will, in most cases, double to two years.

What do firms have to do?

Nothing immediately; however, bear in mind that some HR experts have warned that firms might see an increase in claims that don’t rely on unfair dismissal, such as equality and discrimination protection that employees have as Day One rights in any job.

Make sure your equality policies are up to date and that everyone understands and follows them.

Compulsory pension schemes delayed for small firms.

Firms with fewer than 50 employees will not have to start enrolling staff in new ‘automatic enrolment’ pension schemes (into which both employee and employer must pay monthly) until May 2015. The smallest firms will get until 1 February 2016 to enrol. The original start date for smaller firms was April 2014.

But the whole scheme will begin on time in autumn 2012 and all employers must still join it at some point. The larger the firm, the earlier the start date – firms with 50 plus staff will have to be enrolled by mid-2014.

What do firms have to do?

New staging dates for small firms will be announced in January 2012. In the meantime, however, work out how many of your staff must be enrolled. Start budgeting for payments and admin costs for your firm. Look at your existing pension arrangements to see if they can be adapted for all employees, and if necessary start considering new schemes that fill official criteria. Ask yourself if your payroll and HR provisions can cope, and get ready for questions from employees. Stay aware of changes to the state pension age, too – this will rise to 67 in 2026 (not in the 2030s as planned).

Two dates for your 2012 diary

2012 Diamond Jubilee gives UK businesses extra bank holiday

An extra bank holiday will take place on Tuesday 5 June 2012, with the late May bank holiday moving forward to Monday 4 June.

What do firms have to do?

Check employment contracts to work out if you need to pay staff for the extra day off. Workers are not automatically entitled to be paid for the extra day unless their contract says so, as bank holidays can be included in the statutory paid holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks’ (28 days’) paid annual leave for full-time workers.

But it depends on the wording of the employment contract – for example, if employees’ contracts state that they are due paid holidays including all bank holidays – e.g. “20 days’ holiday plus bank holidays” - they should be paid for the extra day.

Small business rate relief holiday extended to April 2013

From 1 October 2012, businesses will have the opportunity to defer 60 per cent of the increase amount of their 2012-13 business rate bills. The extra can be repaid equally across the following two years.

What do firms have to do?

Apply for the deferral when your rates bill arrives next year.

If you require legal advice in relation to an Employment Law matter  please do not hesitate to contact us via email [email protected] or by telephone on: 01554 749144

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Are My Contracts of Employment Legal?

Q. What does the law define as an illegal contract of employment?

A. Illegal contracts of employment are generally:

  • Those contracts designed to defraud HM Revenue and Customs and the Department of Work and pen-sions by not paying income tax and/or national insurance contributions. 
  • Contracts mainly for immoral or illegal acts.
  • Contracts prohibited by law, for example work in breach of immigration rule.

Q. When may an employee have an illegal contract?

A. An employee may have an illegal contract of employment if:

  • He/she gets all or part of her/his wages cash in hand; and/or
  • Tax and national insurance contributions are not paid on the wages when they should have been; and
  • The employee actually knew he/she was being paid in this way to avoid paying tax and/or national insur-ance contributions, and he/she did nothing about it.

Q. Would a contract of employment still be illegal if only one of the parties (that is the employer or employee) is involved in the fraud?

A. The contract of employment will be legal if only one of the parties is involved in the fraud, for example: where the employee believes that deductions are being made by the employer. If the employee is unaware that income tax is not being paid by the employer, HM Revenue and Customs will usually pursue the em-ployer for any tax due.

Q. What is the effect of an illegal contract?

A. If there is an illegal contract, neither the employer nor the employee will be able to enforce any statutory or contractual, for example an employee cannot claim unfair dismissal, a redundancy payment or right to notice. This is because such claims rely on the employee having a legal contract of employment.

Q. If an employee with an illegal contract made a claim to an employment tribunal or county court, what would happen?

A. An employment tribunal or the county court would refuse to hear any claim made an employee if there was an illegal contract in existence. In addition, the papers would be referred to the appropriate authorities, for example, HM Revenue and Customs.

Q. Are there any exceptions to the above rule?

A. An employee may still be able to make a claim of discrimination, as discrimination claims do not rely on a contract of employment existing. In one case, the court of appeal ruled that a complaint of sex discrimination is not based on the contract of employment. It decided that the employee, although aware of the illegal con-tract, was not colluding with the employer and had been discriminated against.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Monday, December 05, 2011 at 05:23 PM

Keeping Your Will Safe and up to Date

At DPA Law, we regularly help clients to review and update their existing wills to ensure that their wishes are fully reflected. As a rule, we recommend that you review your will every five years or after any major change in your life such as separation, marriage or divorce, having a child, following a change in your financial cir-cumstances or moving house.


These events may have an impact both on your wishes for the distribution of your estate and on the validity of your current will.


Certain events in your life may affect your will without you realising. For example, unless your will specifically states otherwise, then a marriage or civil partnership that takes place after the preparation of a will invali-dates it.


If your will needs alteration then it may not be necessary to start from scratch. A codicil is a supplement to a will and can add to or alter the terms of your will. There are legal formalities that apply to codicils in the same way as a will and you should never make alterations to your original will as changes must be made by codicil or by a new will.


When you have written your will it is important to store it in a location where it will not be lost or damaged, ensuring that it will be easily found by your executors. Many banks or will writing companies charge an an-nual storage fee and whilst this is not a significant amount the costs can all add up over the years.


DPA Law offer to store their clients' wills free of charge on site ensuring their safety and confidentiality. If you would like further information about making a will or reviewing or changing an existing will, contact our wills, trusts and probate solicitor Anthony Davies via email [email protected] or by telephone on 01554 749144.


For further information, visit www.dpalaw.co.uk

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Monday, December 05, 2011 at 04:27 PM