The Government has announced proposed changes to UK employment laws which it describes as “most radical reform package for decades”.
The Government has already committed to introducing New Employment Tribunal Regulations in April 2012 which will increase the maximum sums payable under costs orders and deposit orders, scrap witness expenses and allow for employment judges to sit alone in unfair dismissal claims.
It is also expected that the qualifying period for protection for employers from unfair dismissal will go up from one year to two years in April 2012 which, the Government estimates, will result in 3,700 to 4,700 fewer unfair dismissal claims each year.
Other proposals include:
- reducing the current minimum 90 day consultation period where more than 100 redundancies are proposed;
- requiring that claims must be lodged with ACAS for an attempt at conciliation before proceeding to tribunal;
- introducing “protected conversations”, whereby employers and employees can have frank discussions about such things as retirement or performance concerns without these conversations being disclosed before a tribunal;
- closing a loophole in the whistleblowing legislation to prevent employees from claiming protection when blowing the whistle about a breach of their own contract of employment;
- simplifying the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE); and
- introducing “compensated no-fault dismissals” for firms employing 10 employees or fewer.
The President of the Employment Appeals Tribunal , Mr Justice Underhill, has also been asked to lead a review of employment tribunal rules. The Underhill Review will report by the end of April 2012 with a view to changes being implemented in early 2013.
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