Rises to wage and statutory rates 2023/2024
From 1 April 2023:
- National Living Wage: £10.42 per hour (from £9.50) aged 23 and over
- National Minimum Wage rates:
- £10.18 per hour (from £9.18) for those aged 21 – 22
- £7.49 per hour (from £6.83) for those aged 18 – 20
- £5.28 per hour (from £4.81) for those aged 16 - 17 and apprentices aged 19 and under or in their first year.
- Statutory benefit payments will increase as follows from 3 April 2023:
- Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental, and parental bereavement pay will increase to £172.48 (from £156.66) per week (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower). The gross weekly earnings threshold remains at £123.
- Maternity allowance increases to £172.48 (from £156.66) per week (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower). The gross weekly earnings threshold remains at £30.
- Standard statutory sick pay rises to £109.40 (from £99.35). The gross weekly earnings threshold remains at £123.
Employment compensation limits
From 6 April 2023 the awards for compensation and statutory redundancy payments will increase:
- Weekly pay rate for calculating compensatory awards and statutory redundancy payments will be capped at £643 (up from £571). This means the maximum amount payable will be £19,290 (up from £17,130).
- Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise to £105,707 (up from £93,878). This cap does not apply to dismissals arising from discrimination or whistleblowing.
- Minimum basic award for unfair dismissal in specific cases will rise to £7,836 (up from £6,959).
Spring Budget: key points for employers
Getting people back to work – and keeping them there – was the main focus for the Chancellor. Additional funding to help people with disabilities get back into the workplace and to widen access to occupational health was revealed; and support for the over 50s to return to work, which included access to apprenticeships and removing the pension lifetime allowance charge, was also announced. Finally, from 2025 the cost of childcare will be reduced with the introduction of free childcare for children over 9 months old.
Four-day working week pronounced a success
Of the 61 companies that took part in a trial to establish if a four-day working week on 100% pay was commercially viable, the majority have decided to extend their trial period and almost 30% have decided to adopt a four-day week permanently. The results indicated that there were no particular issues with either productivity or business performance and most companies reported an improvement in their staff’s wellbeing and ability to juggle home and work with around 65% reporting a reduction in sickness absence. Clearly, whether or not employers can implement their own pilot project will depend on sector and client-facing requirements but there will be certain areas they will need to address such as holiday pay and part-time workers already working a four-day week. Care must also be taken when framing a pilot not to suggest that this is a permanent arrangement so that if it is not deemed a success, a return to a five-day week is possible.
Don’t confuse hybrid working with flexible working
Many employers have now formally adopted hybrid working for some, if not all, staff. However, remember that employers are not legally obliged to consider requests for hybrid working whereas the right to request flexible working does have a statutory footing. To avoid employees claiming an implied contractual right to remote working, we strongly advise employers to adopt a hybrid working policy so that everyone knows where they stand, including setting out a rationale to explain why some roles (if any) are unsuitable for hybrid working. Please get in touch with one of the team for help in drafting a suitable policy.
How YEAR has helped one client
Most of you will be familiar with our annual retainer product, YEAR. One of our clients, Sam Baker of Bridgeview VA Services, told us how valuable the service has been for her company over the last year. Bridgeview provides remote administrative support to a wide range of businesses through the use of a Virtual Assistant. The VA concentrates on those tasks that are essential – but time-consuming – such as bookkeeping, email and enquiry handling, travel arrangements, and social media management (to name but a few), allowing businesses to concentrate on their core activities. Sam described YEAR as hugely beneficial: “it is so helpful to know that essentially someone "had our back" and the peace of mind that that gave us was invaluable”.
To find out more about how YEAR can help you, please contact Tina Chander. For more information, click here.
Please also get in touch if you would like us to refer you to Bridgeview VA Services.
Employer obtained WhatsApp messages unlawfully
The end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp messages is what makes the social media platform so popular with so many. However, the manner in which WhatsApp messages can be lawfully obtained as part of an internal disciplinary hearing has been explored in a recent claim that originally went before the Employment Tribunal and then subsequently to the High Court.
The claimant, a recently qualified solicitor, lodged a claim for sex discrimination, unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal against her employer after she was dismissed. The ET found for the defendant, having relied on a bank of WhatsApp messages extracted from the claimant’s work laptop and from an anonymous source prior to the issuing of the ET claim. At the ET, the claimant did not ask for the messages to be excluded but chose, instead, to apply to the High Court for misuse of private information. The defendant tried to strike out the proceedings in the High Court and lodged a counterclaim for costs. Master Davison, sitting in the High Court, dismissed both applications.
In his judgment, Master Davison noted that the claimant’s WhatsApp messages indicated that she “would ordinarily have had a reasonable expectation of privacy.” He also noted that the presence of these messages on her work laptop did not undermine this expectation that they should remain private. Of particular importance to employers, his further observation that, as the messages had been downloaded before a claim had been issued, her employer should have notified the claimant and returned them to her or her solicitor, following which the usual disclosure obligations would have prevailed in any tribunal proceedings.
For WhatsApp messages to be obtained to support an employer’s position in a disciplinary or tribunal proceedings, they must be acquired lawfully as part of an official investigation. Failure to do so may render them inadmissible (although that would not necessarily stop a tribunal from using them if relevant) but, more pertinently, might leave an employer facing a High Court claim for misuse of private information.