The dust is beginning to settle on Vince Cable’s speech launching today’s consultation response.  These and the accompanying press releases and calls for evidence cover a lot of ground, but the package as a whole is still heavier on ideas than on concrete workable proposals.

The main exception is the widely-trailed increase in the unfair dismissal qualifying period to two years from April next year.  Other measures that will definitely be happening include:

  • Allowing employment judges to hear unfair dismissal claims alone, and making this the normal rule in the EAT
  • Imposing a financial penalty on employers who lose in the tribunal, based on the total amount of any tribunal award against them
  • Increasing to £20,000 the maximum award of costs a tribunal can make without ordering detailed assessment.

Ideas that still need to be developed further include:

  • Making ACAS the gatekeeper for new claims, with a bar on issuing a claim until ACAS has had a chance to conciliate
  • A fundamental review of the employment tribunals rules of procedure
  • The introduction of fees in employment tribunals
  • Simplification of compromise agreements
  • The introduction of a "rapid resolution regime" for simpler claims.