Unravelling employment law

If you feel a little confused at the moment about employment law changes and what is happening when, don’t panic. You are not alone! In this two minute update we hope to blast some of that confusion away!

It has been a funny couple of years with a mountain of proposals made by the Government, but the changes have seldom made it into law. There are though a number of proposals currently under review or that have just been passed. For a brief summary, please read on…

A quick overview of what’s coming in on 25 June 2013

If a person is dismissed because of a political opinion, they can make a claim for unfair dismissal regardless of their length of service.
Action required by you – make your managers aware!

In cases of whistleblowing, a disclosure will not be protected unless the employee reasonably believes that it is made in the public interest. Disclosures will no longer need to be made “in good faith”, although where a disclosure is not made in good faith, the employment tribunal can reduce compensation by up to 25%.
Action required by you – update your whistleblowing Policy!

A shake up is to be given to the tribunal procedure and whilst there are still areas being ironed out, these will include judges hearing proceedings alone, prior to an Employment Appeal Tribunal. We know that unfair dismissal, redundancy and breach of contract claims can already be heard by an employment judge sitting alone so what the next phase includes is yet to be confirmed.
Action required by you – none!

And what else are we waiting for?

Settlement Agreements: We are all waiting with baited breath for the huge overhaul of how we manage people exiting the business via Compromise Agreements. There is no definitive date on this yet, but we are expecting it to be this summer.

The idea behind the change in name and format is to make it easier for employers to end someone’s employment amicably without fear of reprisal. In a nutshell, there would no longer need to be a dispute to justify the initial “without prejudice” discussion.

Fees for tribunal claims: Disgruntled employees wishing to put in a claim against an employer will be in for a shock this summer (we have heard whispers of a date in July ) when the Government formally implements its proposals to charge employees wanting to lodge a claim… hopefully deterring those ‘have a go’ claims.

The amount of the fee will depend on the complexity of the claim, so for the more straightforward cases, there will be a cost of £160 to lodge a claim and a further £230 for the tribunal to hear the claim. For more complex cases, it will be £250 to lodge the claim and £950 to hear it.

Also fees to lodge a claim to the Employment Appeal Tribunal will come in and, not surprisingly, discounts will be applied for anyone lodging multiple claims!

Unfair dismissal compensation: Proposed changes to limit the amount a tribunal can award for a successful unfair dismissal claim. Whilst the maximum award currently stands at £74,200, one proposal is that an employee’s annual salary may be used as a cap, where it is lower than the current maximum of £74,200.

Mandatory pre-claim conciliation: In a bid to reduce the number of claims made to a tribunal and seek conciliation where possible, the Claimant will be required to obtain an “Early Conciliation Certificate” prior to lodging a claim with an Employment Tribunal.

To obtain this certificate, the Claimant would need to apply to ACAS who will then seek a conciliation. This new system is due to be implemented this summer.

Equality Act: “Caste” is to be added to the ‘race’ bracket as a protected characteristic. As data on this form of discrimination is limited, it will be interesting to see how this affects employers moving forwards. No specific date has been given for the implementation of this as yet.

And further down the line this autumn?

1. There is due be an overhaul of the TUPE Regulations following consultation in April 2013, particularly around the Service Provision areas of the 2006 Regulations. These currently cause much ambiguity. There is no definite steer on exact changes yet.

2. Employee-owner contracts are due to be introduced. In exchange for an employee being provided with shares in the business, they will forego some of their employment rights, most notably being able to make a claim for unfair dismissal.

If you are interested in finding out more how these changes might affect your business, please give us a call on 01425 479888 and we would be happy to talk this through with you in more detail.

If you need support with any grievances, dismissals, policy reviews, redundancies or tribunal claims, please do call us for competitive rates and commercial support.

This information is correct as at 30th May 2013.

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individuals matters.

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