Practice & Procedure

Having a policy isn’t always enough

In the day job we advise many employers on the need to have their paperwork in order, to have a set of properly drafted employment documents such as contracts and a staff handbook. Having a policy in place for a given situation helps the smooth running of the business and ensures that all employees know what is expected of them. In case of problems arising then if a policy has been drafted and adhered to, it can assist to resolve disciplinary issues or, if required, to justify dismissal of a misbehaving employee. However, this is not necessarily always the panacea to all problems in the workplace. A recent case (Stimpson v CitiBank) shows that employers need to be reasonable in the way they apply those policies and they should not slavishly adhere to their terms, particularly if the policy is not followed in practice.

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Court Fee Hike: Good for ADR?

You’ll have read or heard by now that court fees went up on Monday or, to be more accurate, sat on a rocket and went into the stratosphere quicker than Jeremy Clarkson punching a producer (allegedly).

For disputes between £10,000 and £200,000 the applicable court fee will be 5% of the value of the claim.  The maximum fee is capped at £10,000.  Disputes of a value lower than £10,000 stay as they are.  A Claimant using the Money Claims Online system will get a 10% discount and a voucher for a free coffee in Starbucks (*).  The senior judiciary is worried about the effect these increase will have on access to justice for SMEs. and well they might.  If litigants can’t afford to litigate then there won’t need to be so many Judges.

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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”. ,

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How to enforce payment of Tribunal awards?


It’s all very well having a forum for resolving employment disputes, with laws designed to protect against unfair dismissal, non payment of wages, discrimination, breach of contract etc, but what if the employer can’t or won’t pay?

Failure to pay by recalcitrant employers is a major issue, so much so that the Government is considering reforming the current system. At the moment an Employee who is awarded compensation following a successful claim at an ET can use either  the County Court  or can use the High Court Sheriff’s Fast Track recovery procedure.

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watch mechanism

I get asked this by prospective clients a lot. The other variation is “How does it work”?  I’m talking of course about the employee who has just been told they (or more correctly) their job is to be made redundant.

The usual scenario is that is an employee will have been told their role is to be made redundant and they are put in the consultation period and sent home. The employee is usually either bemused, angry or, occasionally, rather pleased. They need advice on the procedure that will follow and how they can get on with their lives.  That’s where I can help.

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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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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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Redundancy Consultation Period Takes a Hair Cut


Announcements from the Government on employment law reform come through thick and fast these days – one a week it seems – and in this week when everyone is considering  how many mega-calories they will be consuming over the next seven days, it is collective consultation periods in redundancy programmes that has hit the (employment law) headlines.

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From 1st February 2013 an Employment Tribunal will be able to award no more than £74,200 (currently £72,300) by way of a compensatory award in unfair dismissal cases.  In discrimination and whistleblowing cases there is no cap on the maximum amount of the award.

The maximum amount of a week’s pay, used to calculate the statutory redundancy payment and also the Basic and Additional Awards will also increase from £430 to £450 per week.

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