We have reported on the Government’s wide-ranging employment law reforms in recent bulletins. Now that many of these reforms have come into force, amendments may need to be made to precedents, policies, and procedures. By way of reminder, the key changes are listed below.
Changes in force from 25 June 2013
- Removal of the qualifying period for unfair dismissal where the reason for the dismissal is the employee’s political opinions or affiliation.
- Fundamental changes to whistleblowing legislation. A disclosure will now only be protected where an employee reasonably believes that the disclosure is made in the public interest. The requirement for a disclosure to be made in good faith has been removed, although compensation can be reduced by up to 25% where a disclosure is not made in good faith. In addition, employers will be vicariously liable where a worker is subjected to a detriment by a colleague because they have made a protected disclosure, unless the employer has taken all reasonable steps to prevent the detriment.
- The abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board.
Changes in force from 29 July 2013
- Compromise agreements have been renamed “settlement agreements”.
- Discussions with employees about proposed settlement terms will be prevented from being referred to in evidence in ordinary unfair dismissal proceedings, unless there has been improper behaviour by either party. ACAS has produced a statutory Code of Practice to accompany these new provisions
- New procedural rules now apply to most claims in the Employment Tribunal, regardless of when they were lodged.
- Revised ET1 and ET3 forms have been introduced.
- For the first time, fees are payable in the Employment Tribunal and the EAT. Claimants will be required to pay an issue fee and a hearing fee unless they are eligible for remission. The level of the fees depends on the complexity of the case.
- The compensatory award for unfair dismissal has been capped at the lower of one year’s pay or £74,200. This change will apply to cases where the effective date of termination of employment is on or after 30 July 2013.