BIS has published its timetable for implementation of regulatory reforms in 2013.

In relation to employment law, BIS intends to implement the following changes in March 2013:

  • Increase the right to parental leave to 18 weeks per parent per child
  • Agency workers will also have the right to request flexible leave on return from parental leave
  • Remove employers’ potential liability for harassment by a third party under the Equality Act
  • Remove the statutory questionnaire procedure under the Equality Act 2010. Currently an employee who believes that they have been discriminated against can present a questionnaire to their employer asking for information which may assist them to establish whether or not they have a claim. It has been recognised that this procedure is open to abuse by vexatious litigants and can be disproportionally time consuming for employers to respond to

Then in April 2013 it intends to:

  • Remove the requirement for a 90-day consultation period for collective redundancies involving 100 or more employees. The current proposal is to reduce this to a 45-day minimum
  • Implement a change to the protection for whistleblowers so that disclosures are only protected if they can reasonably be said to be “in the public interest”

The Government is currently consulting on imposing a cap of the lower of 12 months' pay or the current statutory limit in relation to the compensatory award for unfair dismissal and on Lord Justice Underhill's extensive reforms to Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure.

It has also been announced that the scheme for charging fees to bring an employment tribunal claim, with an additional hearing fee if the matter is not resolved at an early stage, will be implemented in summer 2013. The key charges will be:

  • £160 to lodge a level 1 claim (very straightforward claims such as unlawful deductions of wages) with a £230 hearing fee
  • £250 for a level 2 claim (which includes claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination) with a £950 hearing fee

In order that low earners and those in receipt of social security benefits are not priced out of the system, there will be a remission scheme. However, the precise details of this are not yet clear.