Statutory dispute resolution procedures repealed

The much anticipated Employment Act 2008 – which comes into force in April 2009 – will repeal the unpopular statutory dispute resolution procedures that have caused so much uncertainty since they were introduced in 2004.

Under the new legislation, a dismissal will no longer be automatically unfair where there is a procedural breach by the employer. On the other hand, employees will no longer be prevented from bringing a tribunal claim if they have not first raised a grievance with their employer. Removed are the powers for tribunals to increase or decrease awards by up to 50% and to extend the time limits for bringing claims in certain circumstances.

Also in the Act is a new statutory Acas Code of Practice, empowering tribunals to increase compensation in successful claims by up to 25% against businesses that fail to follow its recommendations.

The Act, which includes changes to the enforcement of the National Minimum Wage and employment agency standards, brings together both elements of the Government’s employment relations strategy. It aims to increase protection for vulnerable workers while enabling law-abiding businesses to control employment costs and handle workplace problems more effectively.