The latest in the world of employment law, lots of changes were planned for April, some have gone live others have been delayed.
Employee Shareholder Contracts – Delayed to September 2013
For a little while common sense prevailed, the House of Lords voted against the proposal to introduce employee shareholder contracts, unfortunately the Government still want to introduce them, despite there being a lack of interest during their consultation process. Employee Shareholder contracts have now been delayed to 1 September 2013.
Action: The Government has not provided guidance in setting up and managing employee shareholder contracts, until clarity is provided do nothing.
DBS (CRB) Checks Go Online – Delayed to Summer 2013
DBS checks (formerlly known as CRB checks) were due to go online in March, which will make them transferable from one employer to the next. This has now been delayed to the Summer.
Action: For updated information go to www.dbschecks.co.uk
Collective Redundancy Consultation – Confirmed Start Date 6 April 2013
Where 100 or more redundancies are proposed the collective redundancy consultation period reduced from 90 to 45 days on 6 April. Anyone who has given or received a 90 day consultation will probably be relieved by this. The law around redundancy does not allow you to use the words ‘your job is at risk’ until it is an absolutely certainty when the consultation period has been exhausted, so using the words ‘your job may be at risk’ for 90 days creates a level of uncertainty that we are just not programmed to deal with, it results in stress for those at risk and demotivates those remaining.
Additional changes – be prepared
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill
Between March 2011 to April 2012 there were 186,300 Employment Tribunal claims, which is a fall by 15% on the previous year. The Government’s Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill aims to address the high level of claims. Changes that were due to come into effect in April have not yet received Parliamentary approval, and are expected sometime in the Summer.
Hopefully these changes will go some way to help reduce the number of tribunal claims made in future:
- Employees will have to notify ACAS that they are intending to make a Tribunal claim before going through the tribunal system. This will allow ACAS to get involved and help find a resolution, saving time and money for employers.
- Compromise agreements are to be renamed “settlement agreements“. ACAS will provide a Code of Practice, model letters and guidance for the use of settlement agreements.
- Most appeals to the Employment Appeals Tribunal will be heard by a judge sitting alone.
- Whistle blowing claims will only be protected if the disclosure is considered to be genuinely in the public interest.
- The Government plan to introduce Employment Tribunal Fees. The level of fees will depend on the nature of the claim and whether it is an individual claim or part of a multiple claim. People who are unable to pay may receive a rebate, so this may not act as a deterrent to anyone out of work. The proposed fees include:
- An issue fee of £160 or £250, depending on the claim;
- A hearing fee of £230 or £950
- An Employment Appeal Tribunal issue fee of £400
- An Employment Appeal Tribunal hearing fee of £1,200.
- Tribunals will have the power to set financial penalties:
- The unsuccessful party may be ordered to reimburse fees paid by the successful party.
- Employers may face a financial penalty of £1,000 to £5,000 where a Tribunal considers there are ‘aggravating features’, such as malice or negligence
Action: Take the time to audit your employee management systems.
Are your employment contracts and policies:
- Robust & do they meet the needs of your business?
- In line with current legislation?
- Applied consistently across your business no matter which office or manager is applying them?
Are your performance management, discipline and grievance procedures:
- Applied quickly and effectively to help reduce the risk of a claim against your business?
Are your managers trained to be able to:
- Effectively communicate with their team and individual employees?
- Manage conflict situations to help avoid the misunderstandings that can lead to Tribunal claims?