The Employment Act 2008 came into force on 6 April 2009. The Act repeals the statutory dismissal and grievance procedures under the Employment Act 2002 and the associated Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution) Regulations 2004.

The Act gives tribunals discretion to increase or reduce awards by up to 25 per cent in certain cases where the employer or employee unreasonably fails to comply with the new ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance Procedures.

The new ACAS code is intended to help employers and employees deal effectively with issues of alleged misconduct or poor performance in the workplace. Redundancy and non-renewal of a fixed-term contract are specifically excluded. The aim is for an earlier resolution of problems, aimed at lower costs and formality. The revised code is less prescriptive than the previous Statutory Dispute Resolution Procedure and a failure to follow the code alone will not make an employer or employee liable to tribunal proceedings but, of course, following the code should leave an employer less exposed to the risk of an unfair dismissal claim.