The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act finished its parliamentary progress and received Royal Assent on 25 April. Various employment reforms will now take effect in two months' time, on 25 June, including:
- changes to whistleblowing protection - whistleblowers will have to act "in the public interest" but no longer "in good faith", although tribunals will have the power to reduce compensation by up to 25% if disclosures are not made in good faith. The section making employers vicariously liable for the actions of employees who victimise whistleblowers (with a statutory defence where "reasonable steps" have been taken) does not have a formal start date, although apparently the intention is that it, like the other whistleblowing changes, will not apply to disclosures made before 25 June
- the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims (where the "effective date of termination" - normally the dismissal date - is on or after 25 June) will not apply where the main reason for the dismissal relates to the employee's political opinions or affiliation
- a power for employment tribunals to make deposit orders relating to particular parts of claims or responses.
The inclusion of caste discrimination as unlawful discrimination (covered under race discrimination) - the subject of last minute "ping pong" debate between the two Houses of Parliament - went ahead, although the timing is not yet finalised.
Also included in the Act, but still without start dates (despite originally being scheduled for March this year) is the removal of two Equality Act provisions which the Government regards as unnecessary - a specific provision making employers liable for harassment of employees by third parties and the requirement to reply to discrimination questionnaires within a formal time limit. A third Equality Act repeal - that of the tribunal's power to make wider recommendations (to reduce the adverse effect on "any other person" as well as on the complainant) will be included in a new Deregulation Bill announced in the Queen's Speech last week.