Our notes and comments on the new government proposals
On the 23 November Business Secretary Vince Cable announced the government's proposals for what is claimed to be the biggest shakeup of employment law for decades. This has been talked about for a number of months, but what was a rumour has now come to fruition. The government also published its Response to the Consultation on Resolving Workplace Disputes.
So what are the new proposals?
These are the ones that had previously been leaked and we were expecting:
- the unfair dismissal qualifying period will increase from one year to two;
- there will be a compulsory lodging of all claims through Acas. This will allow for an attempt at mediation, before they can be lodged with the Employment Tribunal;
- there will be a consultation on the introduction of protected conversations. They do say though that this will not extend to protect discriminatory acts; and
- there should be a call for evidence, with a view to consultation, on reducing the minimum period for redundancy consultation to 60, 45 or 30 days.
In addition he announced the following that we were not expecting:
- putting in place options for a 'rapid resolution scheme'. This will enable simple claims to be settled within three months;
- clarification that compromise agreements can be used to settle discrimination claims;
- whistleblowing law will be amended so that complaints about breach of employment contract are removed;
- Discretionary financial penalties maybe awarded against employers who breach employment rights. This will be payable to the Exchequer, subject to a discretion exercisable by Employment Judges;
- there will be a fundamental review of employment tribunal rules of procedure, the results of which will include changes to costs and deposit orders;
- it is suggested that Employment Judges will sit alone in unfair dismissal cases;
- CRB checks are to be portable (i.e. there will be no need for a fresh application when people move jobs); and
- Maternity and paternity leave is to be 'modernised', with emphasis on greater involvement for fathers.
The government said that it is still looking at the option of compensated no-fault dismissals for micro-businesses. It is not publishing any proposals at the moment, however it remains a controversial suggestion raised in the Beecroft Report.
If you have questions on any of the proposals above please contact Sarah Tahamtani and the employment team on 0113 336 3314 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.