Employment law timetable – revised again
Employers need to review when forthcoming employment law changes are due to take effect, with the Government revising its timetable for implementing some of them.
The latest timetable is as follows:
- Parents' right to unpaid leave has increased from 13 to 18 weeks (already in force from 8 March).
- The minimum consultation period where 100 or more redundancies are proposed is reduced from 90 to 45 days. The collective redundancy obligations generally no longer apply to employees on fixed-term contracts which have reached their agreed termination point. A non-statutory Acas code of practice is to be published, covering key collective redundancy issues such as the definition of 'establishment'.
- Repeal of requirement for discrimination questionnaires.
- Repeal of employers' liability for harassment of employees by third parties.
- Making 'quiet word' conversations with employees (with a view to negotiating termination of their employment) inadmissible in subsequent unfair dismissal claims (except discrimination or whistle-blowing claims) unless there has been 'improper behaviour' by either party.
- Introducing a statutory Acas Code of Practice providing guidance on how to conduct 'quiet word' conversations.
- Capping the compensatory award for unfair dismissal at 12 months' pay.
- Only protecting whistle-blowers if their disclosure is in the public interest; and making employers liable if whistle-blowers are victimised by co-workers.
- Introducing Employment Tribunal fees, such as issue and hearing fees. Tribunals given power to order losing party to pay winner's fees (with a remission system for parties who cannot pay).
- TUPE rules will no longer apply to 'service provision changes'.
- Introduction of 'employee shareholders' who give up certain employment rights (including the right to claim unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy pay) in return for shares and tax breaks in their employer's company
- Tribunal given power to require employers to carry out pay audits if there is breach of equal pay or sex discrimination laws.
- Compulsory Acas conciliation required before Tribunal claims can proceed.
- Power to impose additional penalties of up to £5,000 on employers in claims with aggravating features.
- All employees with 26 weeks' service to have the right to request flexible working.
Introduction of state-funded occupational health assessments for employees off sick for four weeks or more.
Maternity and paternity leave replaced by 'shared parental leave'.
Unpaid parental leave for parents of children up to 18.
Employers should consider the effect of the new rules on their policies and procedures and, particularly, whether to permit ownership of shares by 'employee shareholders'.
Jonathan Waters is the founder of Helix Law. Before qualifying as a Solicitor he worked in industry and in investment banking for over a decade. He was also the Partner in charge of Commercial Litigation, Employment Law and Property Litigation at Stephen Rimmer LLP. Jonathan has wide experience of helping and advising businesses to avoid or to deal with commercial disputes and in particular construction disputes.
This article is written to raise awareness of the issues it discusses and it may not be updated after it is first written, even if the law changes. It is not intended to be legal advice and cannot be relied on as such. Helix Law is not responsible or liable for any action taken or not taken as a result of this article. If you think the matters set out affect you and you wish to apply them to your particular circumstances then we are happy to give you free initial telephone advice.