As part of the Government’s review of employment law a number of changes to employment legislation are shortly to come into force.
The new provisions
Employment Tribunal Fees – From 29 July 2013 there will be a fee payable for all claims lodged with the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeals Tribunal. For unfair dismissal and discrimination claims the issue fee will £230 and a further fee of £950 when the matter is set down for hearing. There is a lower tariff (£160 and £230) for minor claims such as unpaid wages.
Financial penalties for employers – Where, in claims presented to the Employment Tribunal after 25 October 2013, the Tribunal decides that
- the employer has breached a worker’s rights; and
- there is an “aggravating factor”
the Tribunal may impose a penalty (payable to the government, not the worker) of between £100 and £5,000. The penalty is reduced by 50% if paid within 21 days.
Pre-termination negotiations – the new legislation to facilitate discussions between an employer and employee about an agreed termination is scheduled to come into force on an unconfirmed date but during the summer. This will introduce statutory provision enabling these discussions to be protected from disclosure in legal proceedings provided certain conditions are met. If a Tribunal considers that any aspect of these discussions has been “improper” then the protection will be lost and ACAS has now published a statutory Code of Practice to provide guidance as to how these discussions should be conducted.
New Employment Tribunal Rules – following a thorough review by Mr Justice Underhill the rules of procedure applicable in Employment Tribunals have been streamlined to promote smoother and faster management of claims. The new rules come into effect on 29 July 2013 and include
- an initial sift by an Employment Judge of applications with powers to strike out at an early stage,
- increased powers to make “unless” orders; and
- power to conduct hearings by email.
Early conciliation of claims – the new scheme which will require all claims to be first sent to ACAS so that the possibility of conciliation can be explored will come into force on 6 April 2014. Parties will not be compelled to conciliate but a claim will not be able to be lodged with the Employment Tribunal without a certificate from an ACAS Conciliation Officer that a settlement is not possible or a settlement has not been reached within the prescribed period.
Unfair dismissal compensatory award – from an as yet unconfirmed date in July 2013 the maximum award in the Employment Tribunal will be changed to the lower of £74,200 (the current maximum) and the Claimant’s annual salary. This will apply to all dismissals taking place after the implementation date.
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