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Updated timetable for anticipated employment law developments in 2013

Posted on 25th March 2013
Briefing note

On 14 March 2013 the Government in its Employment law 2013: progress on reform reminded us that it has already implemented significant changes including the increase of the qualifying period of employment from one to two years' service. Details of a revised timetable for other pending reforms were also given.

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As we predicted in Anticipated employment law developments in 2013 the original April 2013 implementation date has proved too optimistic for most of the reforms.The updated timetable for the next batch of anticipated employment law developments is as follows:

Spring 2013

  • Changes to collective redundancy consultation. The 90 day consultation requirement for redundancies involving 100 or more employees is to be reduced to 45 days in April 2013. Acas will be publishing new collective redundancy guidance to support these changes.  See Collective redundancy consultation periods.
  • Consolidation of national minimum wage (NMW) regulations. The government will produce a single set of consolidated NMW regulations from the existing 17 sets of regulations, by the end of April 2013.

Summer 2013

  • New employment tribunal rules. In the above report the government suggests that the new rules will "strip out unnecessary bureaucracy in the administration of the system, and in particular formalise existing good practice in case management so that fairness and consistency in approach is applied across the different employment tribunal offices".
  • Fees in the employment tribunal and EAT. Submitting a claim to a tribunal or an appeal to the EAT will be subject to an initial issue fee, followed by a subsequent hearing fee.
  • New cap on compensatory awards. The unfair dismissal compensatory award will be the lower of one year's pay or the existing statutory cap. The calculation of a year's pay for these purposes will be based on the statutory definition of "a week's pay" contained in the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996).  See New cap on compensatory awards for unfair dismissal claims.
  • Whistle-blowing. The government intends to amend the ERA 1996 so that workers cannot bring a whistle-blowing case relating to a breach of their own contract that is not in the public interest. It will also introduce the concept of vicarious liability to protect individuals from the actions of their colleagues.
  • Portable Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. A portable Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check which employers can view instantly online will become available. This will allow individuals to move roles without needing a new DBS check each time.
  • Improving the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). The government will consult on "streamlining and improving" the GLA. It intends to reduce the burden on compliant labour providers and users and to focus on "gross abuse of workers by unscrupulous gangmasters whose crimes include tax evasion, trafficking, health and safety negligence and other serious crimes".

Autumn 2013

  • Reform of TUPE 2006. In January 2013, the government issued a consultation on proposed changes to TUPE 2006. The consultation closes on 11 April 2013. The changes are expected to be implemented from October 2013.
  • Employee shareholder status. The new employee shareholder status will be implemented in Autumn 2013, rather than April 2013 as previously expected. Under the proposals, employees will be able to obtain shares in their employer in return for giving up some of their employment rights. The first £50,000 worth of shares (valued at acquisition) will be free from capital gains tax on disposal. See Employment law update on the 2013 Budget.
  • Online guidance for disciplinary processes. The government will work with Acas to produce an interactive tool (to be available in Autumn 2013), targeted at small businesses and intended to address key issues they have raised, to cover the entire disciplinary process.
  • Online tool: Employing Staff for the First Time. This was launched in April 2012 as Taking on an Employee but is being further developed and will be reissued. The report notes that the HMRC website is to migrate to in December 2013 and suggests that this will better integrate online tools, such as Employing Staff for the First Time, with other content about PAYE and taxation.

Spring 2014

  • Tribunal claims: Acas early conciliation (EC). On 17 January 2013, the government launched a consultation on how it proposes Acas will deal with requests for "early conciliation" from prospective claimants who will have to make such a request before they can issue certain proceedings in the employment tribunal. The government's response to the consultation is awaited.
  • Tribunal claims: penalties for losing respondents. Tribunals are to be given the power to impose a financial penalty on employers who lose at tribunal of 50% of any financial award, with a minimum threshold of £100 and a maximum cap of £5,000. Where a non-financial award is made, the tribunal will be able to ascribe a monetary value. The penalty will be reduced by 50% if paid within 21 days. However, the levy of a financial penalty will be at the tribunal's discretion; it will not be automatic.
  • Extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees. Part 8 of the Children and Families Bill 2013 will amend the ERA 1996 to extend flexible working rights to all employees with 26 weeks' service, rather than just those employees who qualify as parents or carers.
  • Sickness absence: a new health and work assessment advisory service. The new service will offer free occupational health expertise to employers, employees and GPs including an independent assessment of employees who have been off sick for four weeks. This will be funded by the abolition of the Percentage Threshold Scheme which currently provides compensation for those facing high levels of sickness absence.
Future hrlegalnews editions will provide full details.

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