Government employment law proposals formally announced

Following recent rumours, and leaked reports, Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced the government’s proposals for what is claimed to be the most significant reform of employment law for decades.

The main proposals are:-

  • unfair dismissal qualifying period to increase to two years
  • compulsory lodging of all claims through Acas, for an attempt at mediation, before they can be lodged with the tribunal
  • consultation on the introduction of protected conversations, with the proviso that they will not extend to protect discriminatory acts
  • a call for evidence, with a view to consultation, on reducing minimum period for redundancy consultation to 60, 45 or 30 days

Other proposals, which have not been previously commented on in the newspapers include:-

  • options for a ‘rapid resolution scheme’, to enable simple claims to be settled within three months
  • amendment to s147 of Equality Act 2010, to clarify compromise agreements can be used to settle discrimination claims
  • complaints about breach of employment contract (Parkin v Sodexho) to be taken out of whistleblowing law
  • financial penalties to be introduced on employers who breach employment rights, subject to a discretion exercisable by Employment Judges
  • a fundamental review of employment tribunal rules of procedure, to include changes to costs orders
  • Employment Judges to sit alone in unfair dismissal cases
  • CRB checks to be portable, so no need for a fresh application when moving jobs
  • maternity and paternity leave to be ‘modernised’, with emphasis on greater involvement for fathers

The government has said it is still looking at the option of compensated no-fault dismissals for micro-businesses as leaked in the papers, but it is not publishing any proposals at this time.

So it seems that there are lots of changes on the horizon, most of which appear to bring good news for employers. However, as they say the devil is in the detail and we will therefore have to wait and see how and when these proposals will be implemented. Watch this space….

If you have any questions regarding the above please contact Anna Bunting or Claire Smith of our employment team.

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