The Government has published revised timings for some of the employment law changes in the pipeline, available here. It appears that restricting changes to the April/October schedule has been abandoned for the time being.
The new employment tribunal procedural rules and tribunal fees are now due to come into effect in the Summer, rather than April. 12 July 2013 has been suggested unofficially as a likely date. The Government has also published its response to the consultation on the new rules, available here. They will be implemented largely unchanged, save that parties will now be given 14 days’ notice of the single preliminary hearing (combining the current case management discussion and pre-hearing review) which will set out the agenda, including whether strike-out or deposit orders will be considered. The early sift stage (whereby the judge will review the pleadings and can strike out those parts which have no reasonable prospect of success) is to go ahead. The Government also plans that interest will begin to accrue on tribunal awards from day one unless paid in full within 14 days. A revised draft of the new rules will be laid before Parliament in May 2013.
Proposed changes to discrimination claims (abolishing statutory questionnaires, and removing the third party harassment provisions in the Equality Act 2010) were planned for March 2013, but have been delayed and no revised timetable has been given for them. The statutory questionnaire is to be replaced with an informal approach set out in Acas guidance, which will include advice on how individuals can ask questions and why employers and service providers should respond.
Other changes now due to come in this Summer are:
- the new cap on the unfair dismissal compensatory award at the lower of one year’s pay and the existing limit;
- protected settlement negotiations (inadmissible in ordinary unfair dismissal claims);
- changes to whistleblowing rules (employer vicarious liability for detriment by colleagues; new public interest requirement and removal of good faith test).
The proposed introduction of a new “employee shareholder” status has been put back from April to the Autumn. The Budget statement confirmed that the expected implementation date is 1 September 2013, and that the first £2,000 worth of shares will be free from income tax and NICs. On the same day, the House of Lords voted to remove the employee shareholder provisions from the Growth and Infrastructure Bill; the Bill returns to the Commons on 16 April.
Changes to TUPE are still expected in October 2013. Acas early conciliation and employment tribunal penalties for employers are now not expected until Spring 2014, along with the extension of the right to request flexible work.
The Home Office has also announced changes relevant to employee recruitment. Old and minor criminal convictions will no longer be included in criminal record checks pursuant to legislation expected to be in place within weeks. This follows a recent Court of Appeal ruling that the current checks do not comply with human rights laws.