2013 Employment Law Changes and 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.

Spring 2013

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.

Summer 2013

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.

Settlement Agreements

Enabling the increased use of settlement agreements as a mutually beneficial way of ending the employment relationship.

Whistleblowing

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.

Autumn 2013

Employee ownership

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.

Spring 2014

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
Employer’s Charter
Published Tribunal Award information
Spring 2013
Consolidation of NMW Regulations
Change to collective redundancy
Acas guide on collective redundancy
Consultation on the recruitment sector
Summer 2013
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
Autumn 2013
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
Spring 2014
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
2015
Introduction of Shared Parental Leave
Implementation of Posting of Workers Enforcement Directive