2013 The road ahead
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The government has published Employment law 2013: progress on reform, detailing the progress on employment law reform to date and outlining a timetable of future changes. The key measures and expected implementation dates are set out below.
Collective redundancy consultation
The 90 day consultation requirement for redundancies involving 100 or more employees is to be reduced to 45 days in April 2013.
Consolidation of national minimum wage (NMW)
The government will be simplifying the NMW rules and intends to produce a single set of consolidated NMW regulations by April 2013, merging the current 17 sets of regulations.
Compensatory award cap
The unfair dismissal compensatory award will be capped at the lower of one year’s pay and the existing limit. The calculation of a year’s pay for these purposes will be based on the statutory definition of “a week’s pay” contained in the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Enabling the increased use of settlement agreements as a mutually beneficial way of ending the employment relationship.
The government intends to amend the ERA 1996 so that workers cannot bring a whistleblowing case relating to a breach of their own contract that is not in the public interest.
New employment tribunal fees
Submitting a claim to a tribunal or an appeal to the EAT will be subject to an initial issue fee, followed by a subsequent hearing fee.
Portable Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
A portable Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check which employers can view instantly online will be available. This will allow individuals to move roles without needing a new DBS check each time.
The new employee shareholder status will be implemented in Autumn 2013 rather than April 2013 as previously expected. Under the proposals, employees will be able to obtain shares in their employer in return for giving up some of their employment rights. The first £50,000 worth of shares (valued at acquisition) will be free from capital gains tax on disposal.
Reform of TUPE 2006
In January 2013, the government issued a consultation on proposed changes to TUPE 2006. The changes are expected to be implemented from October 2013.
Right to request flexible working
Part 8 of the Children and Families Bill amends the ERA 1996 to extend flexible working rights to all employees with 26 weeks’ service, rather than just those employees who qualify as parents or carers.
Acas early conciliation
On 17 January 2013, the government launched a consultation on how it proposes Acas will deal with requests for “early conciliation” from prospective claimants who will have to make such a request before they can issue certain proceedings in the employment tribunal. The government has not yet published its response to the consultation but is aiming for implementation by early 2014.
Employment tribunal penalties for losing respondents
Following the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation the government announced it would introduce financial penalties for unsuccessful respondents, although it would not be an automatic levy.
Quick reference table of Government Employment Law Changes
|Delivered to date|
|2 Year Unfair Dismissal Qualifying period|
|Removed default retirement age|
|Better immigration checks|
|Published Tribunal Award information|
|Consolidation of NMW Regulations|
|Change to collective redundancy|
|Acas guide on collective redundancy|
|Consultation on the recruitment sector|
|Making settlement agreements easier|
|12 months’ pay cap on unfair dismissal compensatory awards|
|Revised Employment Tribunal rules|
|Whistleblowing rule improvements|
|New tribunal fees|
|Agency workers – paperwork review|
|Portable online DBS(previously CRB) checks|
|New employee shareholder employment status|
|TUPE Regulation reforms|
|Call for evidence on Public Interest Disclosure Act|
|Better online tool – employing staff for the first time|
|Interactive guidance on discipline|
|Right to request flexible working for all employees|
|Acas Early Conciliation introduced|
|New approach to sickness absence management|
|Introduction of Employment Tribunal penalties|
|Evaluation for Workplace Mediation Services|
|Introduction of Shared Parental Leave|
|Implementation of Posting of Workers Enforcement Directive|