UK: Employment Update: the Employment Bill 2001

Last Updated: 12 November 2001

Article by Anna Henderson

Last Thursday the Government introduced the Employment Bill 2001 in the House of Commons. The Bill puts into legislative form many of the employment law proposals announced in recent months, including those on family-friendly rights and workplace disputes.

Family-friendly rights

The Bill covers the proposed changes to maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave, although it does not contain the detail of most of the changes as these will be made by way of regulations under powers provided by the Bill. The changes were originally mooted in a Green Paper in December 2000, heralded in the March 2001 budget and flesh was finally put on the bones in the framework documents published for consultation in May. Consultation ended on 8th August and there appears to be little change to the substance of the proposals. There is no change to the proposed implementation date of April 2003. In summary, the Bill includes the following provisions:

  • men in a parenting role (to be specified in regulations) who have sufficient service will be entitled to a single block of up to two weeks' paternity leave within 56 days following the birth of a child in order to care for the child or its mother. Regulations will apparently specify that employees can only take this in complete weeks – i.e. the choice will be to take one, two or no weeks. Regulations will apparently provide that the service requirement will be 26 weeks' service by the fifteenth week before the child is due to be born.
  • paternity leave is to be paid at the same rate as flat rate maternity pay – this will be set by regulations and in 2003 will be the lesser of Ł100 or 90% of the employee's average weekly earnings.
  • adoptive parents will be entitled to adoption leave – this will be equivalent to paid ordinary maternity leave and unpaid additional maternity leave for one adoptive parent; where a married couple adopt, only one spouse can claim adoption leave and the other parent will be entitled to paid paternity leave. Regulations will set out the relevant notice requirements and conditions.
  • changes to statutory maternity pay and maternity allowance provisions, including an extension of the payment period from 18 to 26 weeks and an increase in the period of notice to be given to employers from 21 days to 28 days (28 days is likely to be adopted as the required notice period across the board, i.e. for maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave); reimbursement of paternity and adoption leave will mirror reimbursement of maternity pay.

The Government has re-confirmed that ordinary maternity leave (available to all employees) will be increased from 18 to 26 weeks, followed by 26 weeks' additional maternity leave (which it is intended will be made available to those with 26 weeks' service at the fifteenth week before the child is due). This is not contained in the Bill, however, as it will be given effect by regulations. The new rights will be in addition to the right to 13 weeks' unpaid parental leave.

Workplace disputes

At the end of July the Government put forward proposals for changes to the tribunal system in order to reduce the number of claims. Consultation ended on 8th October and most of the proposals are now included in the Employment Bill. One exception is the proposal to charge employees for bringing employment claims, which has been dropped in the face of heavy criticism from the TUC. The DTI press release states that these provisions will be implemented "once a full programme of advice and guidance to business, notably small business, and to individuals is in place". This could therefore be before the family-friendly changes are made in April 2003. The Bill provides for:

  • measures to encourage employers to have and use internal disciplinary and grievance procedures: minimum statutory procedures (involving the written notification of the charge/grievance, a meeting to consider this, a written decision and the right to an appeal meeting) are to be made an implied term of all contracts of employment (which cannot be contracted out of). Dismissals in breach of these procedures will be automatically unfair (as well as being a breach of contract) and will give rise to minimum compensation of four weeks' pay. Tribunals will be able to vary compensatory awards made in respect of most claims that can be brought in a tribunal by up to 50% where employer or employee has failed to use the minimum statutory procedures. The Bill also gives the Secretary of State (after consultation with ACAS) the power to make regulations preventing complaints being presented to tribunals before the procedures have been completed.
  • tribunals will be required to disregard procedural mistakes provided the minimum statutory procedures have been followed, if they would have made no difference to the outcome.
  • the existing obligation to provide written statements of terms and conditions is to be widened to require all employers to provide full details of disciplinary and grievance procedures (although the employer can still put these details in a handbook and simply refer to the handbook in the written statement). (Currently there are reduced obligations for employers with under 20 employees). Employers will not be obliged to issue separate written statements if the required particulars appear in the contract of employment or offer letter. Failure to comply will only be penalised if the employee successfully brings one of certain statutory complaints (including unfair dismissal and discrimination claims) and the tribunal will then be able to award further compensation in respect of that complaint by between the greater of 5% or 1 or 2 weeks pay, and 25%.
  • the requirement that statutory compromise agreements relate to a "particular complaint" will be removed so that they are effective to settle statutory claims whether or not particular claims have been "raised" by the employee (thereby reversing the effect of the decision in Lunt v Merseyside TEC Ltd 1999 [IRLR] 458).
  • a statutory questionnaire for equal pay claims similar to those for discrimination claims. However, discrimination questionnaires need only be answered within a "reasonable time", whereas the Government intend to provide by regulations that the equal pay questionnaire should be answered within 8 weeks of receipt. A failure to respond may lead to an inference on the part of the tribunal.
  • regulations may be made providing that ACAS has a duty to conciliate only for a fixed period (during which the fixing of a time and place for the hearing is postponed); after this has expired, ACAS will have a power but no duty to conciliate.
  • regulations may be made obliging parties to bring and defend tribunal claims using prescribed (and more detailed) forms, possibly accompanied by certain documents such as the written statement of terms. Currently there is no obligation to use the forms IT1 and IT3 provided certain minimum information is given in writing.
  • regulations may also be made to allow complaints to be determined without a hearing. This is intended for use where both parties agree, although it would be subject to the tribunal's right to require a hearing regardless of the parties' wishes. Regulations may also permit tribunals to strike out a case at a pre-hearing review in certain limited circumstances.
  • the Bill permits regulations to be made to allow tribunals to make wasted costs orders against paid representatives and to order one party to pay compensation for the time that party spends preparing his case. These powers are intended only for use where there has been unreasonable conduct.
  • the President of the Employment Tribunals is to be given power to issue practice directions to ensure consistency.


  • union learning representatives are to be given proper status including rights to paid time off work.
  • the Bill includes a power to make regulations prohibiting less favourable treatment of fixed term workers. There are already draft regulations made under the EU Directive on Fixed Term Work but the Government considers that the Directive does not cover pay and pensions. The Bill will therefore allow the Government to extend the protection to pay and pensions.

The Government has also announced the setting up of a new independent taskforce to advise on the implementation of reforms to the employment tribunal system. It will advise on how the system can be made more efficient and cost-effective and on operational aspects of policy changes.


"© Herbert Smith 2002

The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

For more information on this or other Herbert Smith publications, please email us."

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.