- Discipline and grievance: Transitional arrangements have been published for the statutory procedures on discipline and grievance and the Acas Code replacing them from 6 April 2009 (see our e-bulletin on the revised Code). The statutory disciplinary procedure will continue to apply where the employer has disciplined, dismissed, sent a Step 1 letter OR held a Step 2 meeting on or before 5 April 2009. The statutory grievance procedure will continue to apply to grievances about employer conduct EITHER starting on or before 5 April 2009 and resulting in a Step 1 letter or tribunal complaint on or before 4 July 2009 (or 4 October for equal pay, redundancy pay and certain industrial action dismissal claims) OR employer conduct wholly before 6 April 2009.
Acas have also finalised the non-statutory guide fleshing out the new statutory Code, available here. Tribunals are not obliged to take this into account but are likely to do so, so employers should check their procedures for compliance.
- Employment tribunal rules: Various changes to tribunal procedure will come into force on 6 April 2009 (click here). These reflect the repeal of the statutory procedures and make other minor changes, including:
- employees will have a right to object to an employer's request for a 28 day extension to submit its ET3. An employer with external or in house legal representation must inform the employee of this right
- employers who fail to submit a valid ET3 will face a default judgment in most cases, as the judge's discretion whether to issue one will be curtailed
- a claim which is withdrawn pursuant to an Acas settlement will be automatically dismissed where the tribunal has written evidence that the parties understood this would happen
- there will be new ET1 and ET3 forms for making and responding to a claim, apparently to be used where the claim relates to events that happened or continued on or after 6 April 2009 (although this does not correspond with the transitional provisions above). Unhelpfully there are no questions on whether it is claimed the statutory procedures or Acas Code (as appropriate) were followed, nor on the claimant's status as employee or worker (although this information could be included in the "other information" section).
The government has dropped its proposals to allow certain types of tribunal claim to be decided on paper and to permit CIPD members to sign statutory compromise agreements.
- Extension of flexible work rights: The government has confirmed that it is pressing ahead with its proposal to extend the right to request flexible working arrangements to parents of children up to the age of 16 from April 2009 (see Hansard) HC Deb 17 Dec 2008 c1095.
- Increases to statutory benefits: From 6 April 2009 the weekly rate of statutory sick pay will increase to £79.15 and the weekly rate of statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay will increase to £123.06. (See here).
- Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008: Penalties for health and safety offences have been increased from 16 January 2009 – see our briefing for further details.