A new timeline for the Government’s employment law programme is tucked away on page 18 of Employment law 2013: progress on reform, published last week. This reveals some slippage from the previously published plans, though many appear to be still on target. Precise comparisons with previous announcements can be difficult, because the timetable is now tied to the seasons, rather than precise calendar months. The following is a summary of the more significant measures we can expect during the remainder of 2013.
The main change taking effect this Spring, almost certainly on 6 April, will be the halving of the 90-day minimum consultation period for collective redundancies. Most other changes previously targeted for this April have been postponed.
As yet there has been no further announcement about amendments to the Equality Act 2010 which were originally planned to take effect in March. These will repeal the questionnaire procedures and the provisions on third-party harassment. The necessary clauses are included in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, but it has not yet completed its passage through Parliament, let alone received Royal Assent.
Summer is the target season for the bulk of the proposed changes to employment tribunal proceedings. New employment rules are now planned to coincide with the introduction of fees and measures to promote settlement agreements. There will also be a new salary-based cap on the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal. However the proposals on early conciliation and the imposition of penalties on employers who fail to comply with employment law will not now happen until Spring 2014.
Whistleblowing reforms which, like the new tribunal rules, were originally targeted for April, are now also planned for the Summer.
The controversial employee-shareholder contracts will now probably be introduced in October 2013, rather than April as originally planned. Changes to the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations, still the subject of consultation, appear to remain on target for October.
In the light of what is in store in the next six months or so, we should probably be thankful that there is nothing in the timetable for the final season of this year, at least yet.