Employment Law Update May 2013

Spring 2013

  • Guidance on Fit Notes.  Revised guidance on “fit notes” is expected to be issued, placing emphasis on assessing an individual’s health condition in relation to work in general rather than their specific role.

Summer 2013

  • Cap on the compensatory award in unfair dismissal claims.  An extra cap on the compensatory award will mean that in most unfair dismissal cases, the maximum compensatory award will be the lower of one year’s salary and the existing statutory  (currently £74,200).
  • Employment tribunal rules of procedure.  The Government’s response to consultation on proposed revisions to the employment tribunal rules of procedure has been published and the revised rules are set to come into effect at the same time as the new tribunal charging system.  The new rules include:
  • Introduction of a “sift stage” to remove unmeritorious claims early on;
  • A “preliminary hearing” to be introduced that combines case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews;
  • Greater flexibility for tribunals to make privacy and restricted reporting orders;
  • Fees to be introduced for Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal claims.  A two-tier charging system will be introduced for claims in the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal.  A Tier 1 claim (eg. Statutory redundancy payments and payments in lieu of notice) will cost £390, whilst a Tier 2 claim (eg. Unfair dismissal, equal pay and discrimination) will be £1,200.
  • Changes to whistleblowing protection.  A “public interest” requirement will be introduced in relation to whistleblowing claims.  Claims will only be allowed where the basis of the disclosure is “in the public interest.”  The requirement for a disclosure to be made “in good faith" will be removed although compensation will be reduced by up to 25% if the disclosure was not made in good faith.  Employers will also be vicariously liable where workers victimise a fellow worker who has made a protected disclosure.
  • Pre-termination discussions.   Employers and employees will be able to discuss termination of employment on agreed terms.  Such discussions will be inadmissible in ordinary unfair dismissal cases unless there is any "improper behaviour" by either party. ACAS will introduce a new Code of Practice and guidance to cover this and “compromise agreements” will be known as “settlement agreements.”

Later in 2013

  • The new employee shareholder status is due to be implemented on 1 September 2013.
  • The Government is consulting on proposed changes to TUPE which are expected to be implemented in October 2013.
  • The Government has announced an increase in the national minimum wage from October 2013.
  • Provisions in the Equality Act 2012 in relation to employers’ liability for harassment of employees by third parties will be repealed.
  • Tribunals will have the power to force employers to undertake an equal pay audit where a successful equal pay or pay-related discrimination claim is brought against them.

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