Changes to Employment Law on 29 July 2013

Employment Law Update

Liam Hastings of Hastings & Co Solicitors based in Chelmsford, Essex looks at recent changes to employment law.

A number of changes came into force yesterday including:-

1.    Fees are being introduced in the Employment Tribunal

Employees wishing to start claims in the Employment Tribunal must now pay fees. The fees are paid in two stages. The first fee is paid when the claim is issued and the second fee is paid shortly prior to the claim being heard.

There are two sets of fees. For basic claims eg unpaid wages the initial fee will be £160 and the hearing fee will be £230. For more complicated claims eg unfair dismissal claims the initial fee will be £250 with a £950 hearing fee.

In some instances Employers will be ordered to pay fees also, for example if making a counterclaim or on appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

The Tribunal will have discretion to order the losing party to reimburse the winning party of the fees paid.

Employees on low incomes will be able to apply for a fee remission. Nonetheless, employee groups are worried that this will deter employees from bringing genuine claims.

This is probably good news for employers as less claims will be made.

2.    New unfair dismissal compensatory award

The unfair dismissal compensatory award limit will become the lower of the statutory cap (currently £74,200) or one year’s pay. The new cap will apply where the effective date of termination is after 29 July 2013.

3.    Compromise agreements to be renamed settlement agreements

“Compromise agreements” will now be called “settlement agreements”. However, they will operate in the same way as before.

4.   New employment tribunal rules of procedure

The new rules of procedure will replace the old rules and simplify the procedures.

5.   Pre-termination settlement discussions

Most offers made or discussions held with employees with a view to terminating their contract of employment will be inadmissible in any  subsequent unfair dismissal proceedings. So, for example, an employer will be able to make an offer to terminate an employee’s employment without fear of the employee referring to the offer in subsequent unfair dismissal proceedings. However, employers need to be careful as there are certain exceptions and the offers/discussions will not apply to other types of claims for example discrimination claims.

Hastings & Co Solicitors specialises in employment law. Contract Liam Hastings on 01245 835 305 for further advice or assistance.

Disclaimer: this is a very brief overview of the changes introduced yesterday and not intended as a substitute for legal advice.

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