Update on Employment Law Reforms

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The following commencement dates for reforms under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 have been confirmed.

25th June 2013

  • Many of the provisions relating to whistleblowing come into force (in particular, sections 17, 18 and 20). These provisions are significant because if the principal reason for a dismissal is that a worker made a protected disclosure, then the normal two year qualifying period and the cap on the compensatory award do not apply.
  • All hearings in the Employment Appeal Tribunal will be heard by a judge alone unless the judge directs otherwise.
  • The two-year qualifying period for unfair dismissal will not apply where the reason for the dismissal is, or relates to, the employee’s political opinions or affiliation.
  • The date for the annual index-linked increase in the compensatory award will change from February to 6th April, which means that the next increase will be 6th April 2014.
  • The Secretary of State will have the power to reduce the cap on the compensatory award, from the current £74,200 to the lower of a year’s earnings or the national annual median wage (currently approximately £28,000). If the employee’s annual earnings are more than £74,200, then the £74,200 cap will still apply.

29th July 2013

  • Fees will be implemented into the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal and from this date, subject to the necessary Parliamentary approvals, all Employment Tribunal claims and Employment Appeal Tribunal appeals will be liable under the Fees Order and supporting rules to pay a fee or provide an application for fee remission against that fee under the HM Courts & Tribunals Service remissions scheme.
  • Mr Justice Underhill’s Tribunal procedural reforms come into force and are contained in The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013. These new procedural rules stem from the major review carried out last year by Mr Justice Underhill of Employment Tribunals.

On or after 25th October 2013

  • The provisions relating to financial penalties on employers come into force in respect of any Tribunal claim submitted on or after 25th October 2013. In circumstances where an Employment Tribunal decides that an employer has breached any worker’s rights and considers that the breach has any “aggravating factor” then it may order the employer to pay a penalty of between £100 and £5,000 to the Secretary of State. If the penalty is paid within 21 days of the Tribunal’s decision being sent to the employer the penalty is halved.

The commencement dates for ACAS Early Conciliation and confidential pre-termination negotiations are still unknown but I will provide a further update on these dates in due course.

Written by Edward Aston 7th June 2013