Employment Law Reform

Conciliate not Litigate

Early Conciliation  (EC) via ACAS has now been with us for over a month, and it has been mandatory since 6th May for all new disputes to be referred to ACAS before an Employment Tribunal claim can be commenced.  ACAS will, for free, try and resolve the dispute.  If it can’t then the Claimant can issue his/her claim.  If it does settle then job done.

The ACAS website has a useful flowchart which gives an overview of how the process works

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Not Waving but Drowning

Blogging about emplaw is a bit like being a hamster on a wheel. Always some new case, stature, initiative, consultation, debate or controversy to write about and in trying to keep up you go quicker and quicker. Then you fall off when real life gets in the way or the sheer volume of new “stuff” crushes you.

Getting back on is harder. So much to write about, where to start? What to say? It reminds me a bit of the Stevie Smith poem “not waving but drowning”. ,http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/not-waving-but-drowning

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ET Fees and Early Conciliation

According to statistics from the Ministry of Justice published last week, the number of ET claims issued since the introduction of issue fees has fallen off a cliff.  In the quarter October to December 2013 there were 9,801 claims issued, which was 79% fewer than the corresponding period in 2012 and 75% less than the previous quarter.  ET fees were introduced on 29th July 2013 and the level of fee depends on the type of case – for unlawful deduction of wages claims (for example) the issue fee is £160 whereas for unfair dismissal and discrimination the fee is £250. There is a fees remission system which is complex and under review.  Furthermore, there are also additional fees for taking a claim to a final hearing (£230/ £950) meaning that in an unfair dismissal claim total Tribunal fees might be as much as £1200 to enable an employee (who may well be out of work) to get the claim before an Employment Judge for a decision.

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Fee Remission System to be Overhauled

It seems fairly typical of governments these days that no sooner do they introduce something then they have to amend it shortly afterwards. Why not get it right in the first place?

The latest example I have in mind is the fees remission system, which will be overhauled this October, following the introduction of Tribunal fees in July. The planned introduction of fees was many months in the offing.

Let’s not be churlish. If it improves what existed before, which was horribly complicated, then so much the better.  And the new system will apply to all Court and Tribunal cases (with some limited exceptions) not just the ET. It’s joined up government;

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Can We Have a Word?

From the 29th July if, after uttering these words to an employee, an employer goes on to suggest that it would be best for all concerned if the parties went their separate ways, that conversation cannot be admitted as evidence before an employment tribunal in an unfair dismissal claim. Employers have long been concerned that in attempting to have this type of conversation with an under-performing employee that they will find themselves in an employment tribunal with the whole conversation being repeated, potentially leading to a finding of unfair dismissal.

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New ET Procedural Rules

Yesterday, to the accompaniment of Nat King Cole, I wrote about the forthcoming summer of employment law changes. Today in this post I want to specifically concentrate on the new rules of procedure that will come into force on the 29th of this month.

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Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer? Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps

Nat King Cole may have sung about “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy days of Summer” but he clearly wasn’t foreseeing Summer 2013 in the world of UK employment law.  Well, crazy maybe, but lazy?  Some of the most contentious employment law reforms that this government has decided to introduce come into force this month, keeping hardworking employment lawyers from doing important things, like listening to Test matches and sneaking out to enjoy the good weather. Hazy?  There has been a lack of clarity on implementation dates, so perhaps two out of three ain’t bad for the old boy.

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Shares 4 Rights – Dead in the Water?

The FT published a story yesterday saying that only a very few companies have enquired about the government’s plans to allow workers to swap shares for employment rights since the scheme came into force (should that be farce?)  in April.

The report states that BIS has had four inquiries about the scheme and HMRC a mere two, with law firms apparently seeking information on the scheme, presumably not with a view to getting involved themselves.

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Pensions Auto-Enrolment: The Ticking Time-Bomb?



Many businesses already feel over-burdened by red-tape and the Government has been busy trying to simplify the law by rolling back employee’s rights to sue. However, in one fundamental area of employment law, namely pension rights, employers are being subject to one-of the largest and costly shake-ups in recent years: auto-enrolment of workers into occupational pension schemes.

It was introduced last October for the very largest employers (with over 250 employees) and is being phased in for all remaining employers over the next five years. 2013 sees many more businesses brought into scope.  Within that period employers must have enrolled eligible employees into either a qualifying pension scheme or into the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), a defined contribution scheme.

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Whistleblowing: the Changes Ahead


This coming Tuesday 25th June (why a Tuesday in the third week of the month?) will see the current whistleblowing laws amended. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA) introduces four amendments to the Employment Rights Act 1996.  These are;

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