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Employment Law News Roundup

With so many serious changes planned to the tribunal system and employment law generally this year, it is well worth pointing out some of the key alterations that may have escaped your attention in anticipation of their being implemented via the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. With that in mind the following roundup provides a handy summary of what is coming into force and most importantly, when.

Changes to Whistleblowing Provisions

From 25 June 2013 there will be alterations to the provisions relating to whistleblowing, also known as the making of a protected disclosure. This is an important aspect of employment law as where the principal reason for a dismissal is because a worker made a protected disclosure then the two year qualifying period for claiming unfair dismissal does not apply.

The first key change is that whistleblowing protection is now confined to those who make disclosures which ‘in the reasonable belief of the worker are made in the public interest’. There will also be a removal of the requirement for such disclosures to be made in ‘good faith’. What this means is that a worker can make a disclosure out of spite but any award made by the tribunal for such ‘bad faith’ disclosures may be reduced by up to 25%.

There will also be a further change in that employers can now be held to be vicariously liable for a detriment suffered by a whistle blower, but that is inflicted by another employee.

Political Opinion and Affiliation Dismissals become Automatically Unfair

Also from 25 June 2013 the two year qualifying period for unfair dismissal will no longer apply where the reason for the dismissal is for, or relates to, an employee’s political opinions or affiliation. Naturally this applies to dismissals that take effect after the implementation date of 25 June and gives employers another reason to be cautious when considering reasons for dismissing those that may be perceived as troublesome employees.

Financial Penalties on Employers

For claims presented on or after the 25 October 2013 where an Employment Tribunal decides that an employer has breached any worker’s rights and considers that such a breach has an “aggravating factor”, then it may order the employer to pay a penalty to the Secretary of State of between £100 and £5,000. As with a council parking ticket the penalty is halved if paid within 21 days of the decision being sent to the employer. At present it is not entirely clear as to what may or may not constitute an “aggravating factor”.

This penalty for losing employers is due to be implemented sometime in spring 2014. 

If you need advice in relation to the employment law reforms please contact a member of our team on 01133 50 40 30 or athello@scesolicitors.co.uk for a free initial consultation.

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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