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BIS dates for the 2013 diary

In December 2012, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published the ‘Fifth Statement of New Regulations’ (‘the Statement’). This document sets out implementation dates for regulatory reforms in 2013.

The Statement sets out the timetable for, and estimated financial impact of, a range of measures slated for implementation next year. The reforms cover a wide range of areas of law, including energy, planning and development, agriculture, companies and transport. For the purposes of employment law the following dates should be noted in the calendars of all employers:

In March 2013, BIS intends to bring in the following changes:

  • increasing the right to parental leave to 18 weeks (currently at 13 weeks) per parent per child and extend the right to request flexible leave to agency workers on return from parental leave;
  • removing employers’ potential liability under the Equality Act 2010 for harassment by a third party such as customers and contractors; and
  • removing the statutory questionnaire procedure. This change may reduce initial administrative obligations on employers; however in the long-term it may increase the likelihood of employees bringing a discrimination claim which has little merits.

In April 2013, legislation will be enacted to:

  • remove the requirement for a 90-day consultation period for collective redundancies of 100 or more employees. This is certainly going to relieve the burden on struggling employers;
  • revise the Employment Tribunal (ET) Rules of Procedure to ensure claims can be managed effectively, flexibly and proportionately;
  • implement a change to the protection for whistleblowers under the Employment Rights Act 1996 so that disclosures are only protected if they can reasonably be said to be ‘in the public interest’. This will be a welcomed change; however it will prove more beneficial to employers and employees’ alike if clear guidance as to the meaning of ‘in the public interest’ is provided. Otherwise no doubt we will have to wait until it has been defined by case law!

The Statement makes it clear that the Government remain committed to removing red tape in an attempt to boast growth and jobs in the economy. They claim that out of the 6,500 substantive regulations examined by the Red Tape Challenge, they are committed to abolishing or reducing 3,000 of them. This, they conclude, will have a financial benefit to businesses. To bring this point home a second phase of the Red Tape Challenge will be launched in the Spring.

Whether we agree with the changes or not, it is clear that 2013 is going to be another year of change in the world of employment law. Some of which will be governed by our membership in the EU but most of it will be from a desire to remove red tape. If you are sick of hearing that word being blasted around, prepare yourself, it’s likely that this will be the catchphrase again this year.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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