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Employment reforms – how will they affect you?

On 23 November 2011 Vince Cable announced a number of reforms, some of which came as no surprise for employment experts however the real question is – will the changes kick start recruitment in small and medium sized businesses? 
In my opinion the key proposals for employees, businesses and employment law specialists are as follows:

Employees:

1. Unfair dismissal qualifying period doubled from 1 year to 2 to be implemented from 6 April 2012.

2. A fee to be changed for lodging employment tribunal claims and a further fee for taking the claim to a full hearing. There will be a consultation in respect to this policy however there is a hint that due to the level of detail provided by Mr Cable that this policy will be implemented.

3. All employment claims will go to ACAS for pre-claim conciliation (on a number of occasions claimants no longer trust their former employees so it may prove difficult for any agreement to be reached).

4. Complaints about breach of employment contract to be taken out of whistleblowing law.

5. Maternity and paternity leave to be ‘modernised’, with emphasis on greater involvement for fathers.

6. CRB checks are to be portable and once conducted ‘instantly accessible online’

Businesses:

1. Parties having ‘protected conversations’ that cannot subsequently be used as evidence in an employment tribunal. There are suggestions that this will be used for conversation in respect to retirement or performance management. This policy is going to be subject to a consultation.

2. BIS will consult on the ides of ‘compensated no-fault dismissal’ for ‘micro firms’ (businesses with 10 or fewer employees).

3. Slimming down the dismissal process will be considered. A ‘simpler, quicker and clearer’ dismissal process may include amendments to the ACAS Code.

4. Clarification that compromise agreements can be used to settle discrimination claims.

5. Financial penalties to be introduced on employers who breach employment rights, payable to the Exchequer, subject to discretion exercisable by Employment Judges.

6. BIS will consult on ways that allow businesses to use agency workers flexibly.

7. Cutting down the consultation period for redundancy from the current 90 days to 60, 45 or 30.

Employment law experts:

1. Options for a ‘rapid resolution scheme’, to enable simple claims to be settled within three months.

2. Potential changes to TUPE – evidence will be sought by BIS.

3. A fundamental review of the procedural rules and regulations governing employment tribunals (including costs and deposit orders). A revised procedural code should be produced by April 2012.

Some of the proposals are going to require consultations and review therefore it may take some time before they are implemented however there is a serious risk that the reforms may increase the creativity of litigants and we will see an increase of discrimination cases. 
Further I am unsure as to whether relaxing employment rights will have any impact on recruitment and I would love to get the opinion of both business owners and employment law specialists

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Samira Cakali

Solicitor Advocate LLB (Hons), Higher Rights (Civil) at SCE Solicitors
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.
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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