Monthly Archives: December 2012

New Year, new legislation: what businesses need to know in 2013

At least thirteen pieces of new legislation, or changes to existing legislation, will impact British businesses in 2013, but there is an increased focus on simplicity and cost-savings, says Riverview Law, the fixed-price legal services business. To help businesses prepare for the upcoming changes, Riverview Law have provided a brief overview of what the planned changes will mean: January 2013: ‘One-in, Two-out’ rule

  • Every new regulation that imposes a financial burden on firms must be offset by reductions in red tape that will save double those costs. The new ‘One-in, Two-out’ rule will be imposed across every Whitehall department, and will apply to all domestic regulation affecting businesses and voluntary organisations. It will replace the ‘One-in, One-out’ rule, which required the costs of every new regulation to be matched by savings of an equivalent amount.

February 2013: Amount of a week’s pay and statutory guarantee pay increased

  • The maximum amount of a week’s pay to be used when calculating statutory redundancy payments and basic awards of compensation for unfair dismissal will be increased to £450 per week. The limit on the amount of statutory guarantee pay payable to an employee in respect of any day will increase to £24.20. Employers, who are planning for redundancies in 2013, will need to take account of the new figure when calculating statutory redundancy payments for any employee whose termination date is on or after 1 February.
  • March 2013: Increase in parental leave
  • Unpaid parental leave will be increased from 13 weeks to 18 weeks.

March 2013: DBS launches online update service

  • The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) will launch an online update service for checks on an applicant’s criminal record and suitability to work in regulated activity with vulnerable groups, including children. There will be a small fee for this service but it does mean that it will no longer be necessary to apply for a new check each time an individual starts a new job or activity. DBS checks will also now be portable (transferable) between jobs and activities, streamlining the recruitment process.
  • Date to be decided (needs to be implemented by 16 March 2013): Changes to the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (interest) Act 1998
  • Aimed at combating late payment in commercial transactions, this Directive will require public authorities to pay invoices for goods and services within 30 days as a general rule, which may be extended to 60 days in some cases. Businesses generally will be required to pay invoices within 30 days, although they may agree to extend the payment period to 60 days. Any attempt to extend the payment period beyond 60 days will only be valid if it isn’t considered “grossly unfair” to the supplier. Defaulting purchasers will be required to pay interest at a rate of at least 8% above the Bank of England base rate, and compensation costs of not less than EUR40.

April 2013: Changes to registration regime for company changes

  • The legislation will implement a single UK-wide scheme that applies to all companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), and will therefore be of relevance to all company directors, company secretaries, and partners of LLPs. It is intended that the new regime will become law on 6 April 2013 and will streamline the registration process.

April 2013: Changes to statutory maternity, adoption and paternity pay

  • Effective from 7 April 2013, the standard rate of Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay will rise from £135.45 to £136.78 per week.

April 2013: Changes to the safety inspection process

  • The government intends to introduce binding new rules on both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and on local authorities that will exempt hundreds of thousands of businesses from burdensome, regular health and safety inspections. In future, businesses will only face health and safety inspections if they are operating in higher risk areas such as construction, or if they have an incident or a track record of poor performance.

April 2013: Changes to the current Reporting of Injuries, Disease and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR ’95) process

  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently consulted on proposals to simplify and clarify how businesses comply with the requirements under the RIDDOR ’95, to make it easier to understand and comply with. These changes will make it easier for businesses and other users to understand what they need to do to comply with health and safety law.

April 2013: Employee-shareholder contract introduced

  • Employers will be able to offer a new type of employment contract, under which an employee will give up some of their employment rights in exchange for between £2,000 and £50,000 shares in their employer’s company that are exempt from capital gains tax. The new contract, referred to as an “employee-shareholder” contract, will be optional for existing employees, but employers will be able to offer this type of contract to new starters.

Summer 2013: Fees for bringing employment tribunal claims introduced

  • Employees who bring a claim before an employment tribunal will be required to pay a fee. For a level 1 claim (such as unlawful deductions from wages, failure to pay statutory redundancy pay or statutory holiday pay) there will be a £160 issue fee and a £230 hearing fee. For a level 2 claim (such as unfair dismissal or discrimination), there will be a £250 issue fee and a £950 hearing fee. Currently, there is no charge for bringing an employment tribunal claim. The Government’s stated aim for introducing a fee scale is to reduce the cost to the taxpayer of running the tribunal system.

Summer 2013: Young people required to continue in education or training

  • From summer 2013, young people will be required to continue in education or training until at least the end of the academic year in which they turn 17.

Date to be decided (likely to be by end of 2013): Consumer Rights Directive

  • The EU Council has approved the Consumer Rights Directive, which aims to simplify the existing rules on consumer protection for distance contracts and contracts negotiated away from business premises, and to promote a more competitive and consumer-friendly internal market. The Directive has to be implemented into UK law by the end of 2013.

Allan Archer at Riverview Law says: “Taking a pre-emptive approach to dealing with legal matters always delivers the best results. Businesses would be wise to start thinking about how these impending changes will impact on them now and prepare to take whatever action is needed. It is much better to be prepared than deal with something when it is too late.” More detailed information about the legislative changes can be found by registering for free on the Riverview Law website: www.riverviewlaw.com.

Maple Leaf Reflections

You can hear it in my accent when I talk, I’m a Canadian in London – apologies to Sting In the opening pages of James Clavell’s, Noble House, visitors to Hong Kong are hit by a pungent smell as they disembark their plane at old Kai Tak airport. They’re told, “That’s the smell of money.” When I recently disembarked at Heathrow’s T3, I don’t recall any particular smell. But by the end of a whirlwind week of talks and presentations, I was drinking in the soothing velvet taste of innovation as it continues to roll through the UK’s legal services market. Riverview Law generously sponsored me for a week-long list of engagements with law students, lawyers and general counsel to discuss what is being done now, and what can be done to change the legal services industry into a modern business operation based on value-for-money, client service and exceptional process. My book, Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century, was striking a chord among those in the UK who saw the full implementation of the Legal Services Act as the death knell for “business-as-usual” for all law firms except the Magic Circle firms – at least for now. I have often called Canada “the land where legal innovation comes to die.” We’re a conservative bunch here, barely touched by the financial meltdown of 2008 and stubbornly clinging to the notion that what works in private business has absolutely no application to the running of a legal practice. So, I was pleasantly stunned to be surrounded by individuals who spoke of wild ideas like “management information”, “major investment in IT solutions”, “constantly improving our processes”, “culture of innovation,” “creating the right metrics”, “letting lawyers do what they do best”, “value-for-money” and “fun”. These were not terms thrown around to impress – they’re values deeply imbedded in a new wave of legal services providers who are discarding things lawyers dislike (time sheets for starters) and applying lessons learned from other successful businesses. And to think that the most innovative provisions of the Legal Services Act are only a year old….. Clearly there are direct correlations between well-funded legal businesses, happier lawyers and predictable, affordable pricing for clients. The highlight of my trip was visiting Riverview’s operations in The Wirral – it was if I had walked into the offices of my fictionalized law firm, BFC – minus the rooftop deck. I was astounded by the fact that from the top down, a customer-centred culture permeated the team. It was palpable, refreshing and genuine – something I’ve not seen before in any law firm. My short UK tour has reinforced my belief that the Canadian legal profession can be saved through similar innovations driven by an opening up of the legal marketplace. But for now I’ll have to be content to watch from the other side of the Atlantic – green with envy.