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A few things to watch out for in 2012...

developments in vat, company law and employment law in 2012During the past twelve months there have been many significant developments that directly affect British businesses and organisations. Some changes have been positive whilst others have been damaging and costly. A sharp increase in VAT, new bribery legislation affecting directors and a whole raft of employment laws meant that most parts of most organisations were required to meet the challenge of implementing the changes.

As we look forward to what 2012 will bring, it is already possible to see that there are further interesting challenges ahead. Thoere are aspects of VAT, company law and employment law that we already know will be changing in the coming months and, as the economy remains volatile, further measures are surely to be expected.

From 1 January 2012, the lower limit for completing EC Sales Lists for VAT purposes will be halved from £70,000 to £35,000, meaning many more small businesses being required to complete monthly EC Sales Lists.

There will also be changes to the way that returns are submitted. From April all VAT returns must be submitted online. It will also be compulsory for Intrastat forms to be submitted online and the deadline by which this must be done will be reduced.

Although the likelihood of substantial Company Law reform is not currently on the government's agenda, there are plenty of ongoing developments of which company directors and company secretaries need to be aware.

Following the first successful prosecution under the Bribery Act we are likely to see many more cases come before the courts in the coming months. It will be interesting to see how the courts interpret some of the more contentious parts of the Act.

The conduct and composition of boards of directors are likely to come under increased scrutiny and further political pressure during the year. Two key areas have already been identified by government as giving concern and could possibly be the subject of regulation at some point: directors' pay and the lack of representation of women on boards.

A decision about increasing the limit for claims in the Small Claims Court has been put off, probably to be announced around January or February. It has been 5,000 for many years and will probably be increased, perhaps up to 15,000. It is likely that any change will be implemented on 1st October 2012.

One area of public policy that never seems to stand still is Employment Law and 2012 looks like being no exception. Indeed, the coalition government's determination to ease the burden of regulation on employers may even see an increase in the pace of change.

The most substantial change will be the extension of the qualifying period to claim unfair dismissal. As we discussed in last month's Business Briefing, in order to bring an unfair dismissal claim to a tribunal an employee will need to have been employed for two years, a year longer than the current requirement. This comes into force in April 2012.

April will also see some changes to the tribunals system, enabling judges to hear more cases in tribunal sitting alone and all cases on appeal sitting alone. There are also changes regarding the role of witnesses and the awarding of costs. The main impact on the tribunals system, however, will come later as the government is committed to introducing a 'lodging fee' in order to make a claim and a further fee in order to be granted a hearing.

Other confirmed changes include; the entitlement to parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child will increase from three to four months in March; and, auto-enrolment of employees into a workplace pension scheme will begin for larger employers from October 2012.

Changes due to be implemented in 2012 but for which dates and schedules have not yet been confirmed include the following.

  • The reintroduction of a scaled-back Vetting and Barring Scheme.
  • The referral of all tribunal claims to Acas in the first instance.
  • New financial penalties for employers in breach of employment rights.
  • Restrictions on 'whistleblowers' making protected disclosures about their own contract.

For almost thirty years UK Training has endeavoured to maintain its place at the forefront of organisations explaining emerging legislation and new developments in the key areas outlined above. We look forward in 2012 to helping our customers understand and make the most of the important challenges ahead.

UK Training (Worldwide) Limited

UK Training would like to wish all our customers
a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year





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