The Employment Law Reforms - A Guide for Businesses

Following the Red Tape Challenge and the Resolving  Workplace Disputesconsultations, the government has just announced major employer-friendly  reforms to employment law which they say are “flexible and fair”.

Are you up to speed yet with the proposed provisions? If not, here is a  handy guide to the issues being consulted on.

The government plan to:

  • Introduce fees for claimants to bring  employment tribunal claims
    • Either requiring an initial fee to lodge a claim, and then a second fee  to progress to a hearing, or
    • Introducing a £30,000 threshold, so claimants with claims in excess of  this amount will pay more to bring a claim.
  • Require all employment disputes to go via ACAS before going to a  tribunal
  • Increase the qualification period for unfair dismissal from one to two  years from April 2012.
  • Modify the calculation for employment tribunal awards and statutory redundancy payments to round to the nearest pound.
  • Change some aspects of tribunal cases from April 2012
  • No longer requiring witnesses  to read out their statements
  • No more expenses for witnesses
  • Employment Judges to  sit alone in unfair dismissal claims.
  • Increase the maximum amount of costs that employers can claim against vexatious  tribunal claimants from £10,000 to £20,000.
  • Increase the maximum amount of deposit that an Employment Judge can impose on claimants with weak claims from £500 to £1,000.
  • Simplify the National Minimum Wage
  • Prevent employees from “whistleblowing” about their own employment contract.

The government will  also be consulting further by way of a “call for evidence” on:

  • Reducing the 90 day minimum consultation  period for 100 or more employees in collective redundancies.
  • Simplifying the TUPE regulations which currently  provide for employees to transfer to new employers automatically when a  business transfers or there is an outsourcing or insourcing situation.

If you want to respond to these “calls for evidence”, follow the links  above and respond by 31 January 2012.

Further consultation  will take place on the government’s proposals to:

  • Introduce “protected conversations” allowing employers to discuss issues  like retirement or poor performance with staff without this affecting any  subsequent tribunal claims.
  • Introducing a “no fault dismissal” payment scheme for businesses with  less than 10 employees
  • Simplify compromise agreements and call them “settlement agreements”. These  are contracts in which an employee compromises or settles their potential  claims against their employer in return for compensation.
  • Develop a “rapid resolution” scheme to provide a quicker and cheaper  alternative to a decision by an employment tribunal.
  • Streamline the current regulatory regime for the recruitment sector.
  • Create a universally portable CRB check that can be viewed by employers  instantly online.
  • Simplifying existing dismissal processes

The government have also appointed a leading Employment Judge to review the existing rules of procedure governing employment  tribunals, with a view to simplifying them and improving efficiency.

If you want to find out more or respond to the consultations or calls  for evidence, visit the BIS website or talk to your MP.  If you would like to discuss any of the proposals in terms of how they will  affect your business, please contact theEmployment Law Department at Gelbergs Solicitors, and we will be  happy to help.

This blog is for information purposes only and is not a definitive statement of law. It is correct as of the publishing date, but may become out of date as the law changes. You should always seek professional legal advice about your particular circumstances.

Published: 6th September 2012