The next phase of employment law reforms has been on the horizon for some time now. However, with various postponements and changes, it has been difficult to keep track of when each reform is due to be implemented.
The Government has recently published an updated timetable which will allow employers to plan more effectively to accommodate the changes. The key dates are summarised below.
As planned, on 6 April 2013, the minimum collective redundancy consultation period will be reduced from 90 days to 45 days (where 100 or more employees are affected by redundancy at one establishment within a 90 day period). The 30 day minimum consultation period will continue to apply where between 20 and 99 redundancies are proposed. Alongside this, the expiry of fixed term contracts will be excluded from the consultation obligations, and non-statutory ACAS guidance will be published.
Other changes which were expected to come into effect in April have been put back to Summer and Autumn 2013 and, in some cases, even later.
Employment Tribunal fees will now be introduced in the Summer, to coincide with the new Employment Tribunal rules. Claimants will be required to pay up to £250 to bring their claims to a Tribunal, with an additional payment of up to £950 due if their claim progresses to Hearing stage.
The new Tribunal rules are still to be finalised, but they are expected to include new ET1 and ET3 forms, a simplification of the rules, and a separate "sift" stage in the process.
Other reforms now expected in the Summer are:
- New unfair dismissal compensation cap (at the lower of one year's pay and the existing limit).
- An end to workers bringing whistleblowing cases on a breach of their own employment contract, unless it is in the public interest.
From Autumn 2013, it is expected that employees will be able to exchange some of their employment rights for shares in their employer. A new 'employee shareholder' status will emerge.In addition to this, TUPE changes are predicted to be implemented in early Autumn. The consultation in respect of the proposed changes is open until 11 April 2013.
2014 and beyond
Enhanced flexible working legislation should come in during 2014, and new sickness absence management tools are to be introduced in the same year.The long-anticipated shared parental leave reforms will not come into effect until 2015.
Impact for Employers
The new implementation timetable will assist employers in planning for the changes. In certain cases, policies or internal guidance documents may need to be updated and consideration given to any employee communications.