The government last week announced yet more employment law reforms which amount to a charter for employers to ambush and bully workers into leaving their jobs, Thompsons has said.

The government has announced:

  • a consultation entitled “Ending the Employment Relationship” to look at how to make settlement agreements work in practice (see weekly LELR 273); and how to reduce the unfair dismissal compensation cap which currently stands at £72,300
  • a consultation on how judges in employment tribunals could dismiss weak cases more easily and reduce the number of preliminary hearings
  • its decision not to pursue the idea of compensated no fault dismissal for micro-firms

Victoria Phillips, head of employment rights at Thompsons, said:

“Vince Cable may claim to have rejected Beecroft’s no fault dismissals, but in reality settlement agreements are little different. They will equip unscrupulous employers to ambush a worker, even bully and cajole them into agreeing to go, without getting advice from their trade union or elsewhere, and the fact of the conversation won’t be able to be referred to in any subsequent unfair dismissal tribunal case. Legally, it will be as if it never happened.

“So if a pressured employee accepts the offer they lose their right to pursue an employment tribunal claim and the chance of a greater level of compensation. And if they don’t, they cannot refer to it as evidence of their employer’s intentions, even though it may be key to showing that they have been unfairly dismissed”.

Read Thompsons’ comment in full

The government has also published its response to its call for evidence on the effectiveness of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) 2006. It has concluded that the issues respondents have raised will be considered and that further consultation will take place alongside engaging with key players.

Andrew James of Thompsons said: “While we welcome the government’s pledge to consult with the unions and not to rush headlong into reforming TUPE regulations, as has happened with other areas of employment law, we would oppose any attempt to repeal the 2006 service provision changes.

“The overriding aim of the TUPE regulations is to protect and preserve the rights of workers. The legislation does exactly that, no more and no less. Since 2006 the regulations have provided greater clarity to employers who more often than not are the ones who challenge whether TUPE applies, and this is borne out by the fact that there are now considerably fewer legal challenges on this issue”.

Read Thompsons’ response in full

To access the two government consultations which close on 23 November, and the Government's response to the call for evidence on TUPE, visit the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills website.

Employment Tribunal Rules - review by Mr Justice Underhill

Ending the employment relationship

Government response to call for evidence on TUPE