Major Employment Law Reforms - New Timetable Announced

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has announced a new implementation timetable for the major employment law reforms, many of which had originally been intended to come into force in April 2013. 

The new proposed timetable for implementation of these reforms is:

Summer 2013:

  • protected settlement conversations. A new Section 111A will be introduced into the Employment Rights Act 1996. ACAS has produced a draft Code and 3 draft Settlement Letters.  These only apply to offers to settle potential claims for unfair dismissal and give an employee 7 working days to consider acceptance of the offer. The intention of these protected discussions is to simplify the position as to whether or not offers to settle are genuinely “without prejudice” or if they can be referred to in subsequent Employment Tribunal claims for unfair dismissal. If the offers are accepted they will lead to Settlement Agreements being entered into (previously know as Compromise Agreements). If the offer is rejected, the confidentiality of the letters can be breached if there was undue pressure applied
  • 12 month earning cap on compensatory award – 1 year’s salary or the national median salary (which is about £28,000) – applicable only to unfair dismissal claims (not if automatically unfair or to discrimination claims etc);
  • revised employment tribunal procedural rules;
  • new tribunal fees will be payable – on issue and a subsequent hearing fee.  There will be 2 tiers of fees: Level 1- unlawful deductions from pay, holiday pay etc and Level 2: everything else.  Issue fees will be £165 and £250 respectively and hearing fees £230 and £950 respectively.
  • Although no doubt Claimants will want these fees reimbursed in any settlement they may initially discourage weak or low value claims.
  • changes to whistleblowing laws

Autumn 2013:

  • employee shareholder status
  • TUPE reforms 

Sometime in 2014:

  • ACAS early conciliation  - It will be a requirement before an Employment Tribunal claim can be issued that ACAS issue a Early Conciliation Certificate (details of which must be inserted into a new ET1 form which will be published).   However, this Certificate will still be issued if either party declines conciliation.
  • employment tribunal penalties for employers

If you wish to discuss any matter arising from this article or any other employment problem please contact Janet Long on 020 3254 1435 (direct line) or by email to j.long@pj-h.co.uk

The contents of this article are intended for general information only.  It is not a substitute for legal advice, and shall not be deemed to be or constitute legal advice.  We therefore cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. We will, however, be pleased to advise you on the specific facts of your case.