Vince Cable and the Department for Business Innovation and
Skills have announced the Government's proposals for a shake up
of employment law which could represent a significant change to the
current Employment Tribunal system. Some of these proposals have
already been announced or leaked, but some are new.
The proposals include:-
Unfair Dismissal Qualification - the qualifying period of
service for unfair dismissal will increase from one year to two
years from April 2012;
Extending the category of 'sit-alone' judge cases -
unfair dismissal will be included in the range of cases where an
employment judge can sit without two lay members;
Withdrawal of payment of expenses - parties and witnesses will
no longer be able to claim expenses for attending hearings.
Tribunals will have new powers to order a party who calls a witness
to cover the witness' costs;
Review of Employment Tribunal rules - Mr Justice Underhill has
been appointed to lead an independent review of the existing rules
of procedure, including a proposal to double the current limits
from £500 to £1,000 for a deposit order, and from
£10,000 to £20,000 for costs;
Employment Appeal Tribunal - appeals to the Employment Appeal
Tribunal will be heard by a judge sitting alone unless the judge
Early conciliation - there is to be a requirement that all
employment disputes are lodged with ACAS for pre-claim conciliation
before they can proceed to tribunal;
Without Prejudice - a consultation paper will be published in
early 2012 on 'protected conversations' which will aim to
allow employers to discuss issues such as retirement or poor
performance in an open manner with staff without this being used in
any subsequent tribunal claims;
Redundancy consultation - a call for evidence, with a view to
consultation, on reducing the minimum period for collective
redundancy consultation from the current 90 days to 60, 45 or 30
Whistleblowing - complaints about breach of the employment
contract are to be excluded from whistleblowing protection;
Compromise agreements - the current problem with section 147 of
the Equality Act 2010 will be resolved by making it clear that
compromise agreements can be used to settle discrimination claims;
Financial penalties - Employment Tribunals will have new powers
to levy a fine (payable to the Exchequer) on employers found to
have breached employment rights.
This announcement shows that the Coalition Government is serious
about bringing in far reaching reform of the UK Employment Tribunal
system following the major consultation carried out by BIS in
January 2011. LookOut will keep you posted on developments.
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