The most significant changes to employment law this year will be made by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (ERRB). This is currently going through Parliament and so is subject to amendment. The Bill is expected to pass into legislation in April.
Its key provisions include:
- Enabling employers to hold “pre-termination negotiations” (otherwise known as “protected conversations”) where the employer can offer termination payments to workers knowing that a tribunal cannot take them into account when considering a claim for unfair dismissal
- Renaming compromise agreements as settlement agreements
- A requirement to provide information to ACAS before lodging a tribunal claim form
- Enabling the Secretary of State to cap unfair dismissal awards
- Introducing penalties on employers who have breached employment rights where the breach has aggravating factors
- Not allowing a worker making a protected disclosure (whistleblowing) to bring a claim for breach of contract unless there is a wider public interest
- Repeal of Equality Act provisions on third party harassment and discrimination questionnaires
- Reducing the statutory consultation period for collective redundancies where 100 or more employees are proposed to be made redundant from 90 to 45 days
- Giving employment tribunals the power to order an employer to carry out an equal pay audit where there has been an equal pay breach
- Removing employers’ statutory breach of duty in relation to workplace injuries.
Other key changes are as follows:
Increase in compensation limits
A number of new compensation limits come into force. These apply when the relevant event takes place on or after 1 February 2013 (see weekly LELR 301 for more details).
Increase in unpaid parental leave from 13 to 18 weeks per parent for each child from 8 March.
Third party harassment
Repeal of the Equality Act 2010 provisions on third party harassment. (NB - this is a provision of ERRB so the implementation date is subject to change.)
Repeal of the questionnaire procedure under the Equality Act 2010 so that workers can no longer submit a statutory questionnaire to employers to request further information in a claim for discrimination. (NB - this is a provision of ERRB so the implementation date is subject to change.)
Employment tribunal rules of procedure
- Increased powers for employment judges to strike out claims which have no reasonable prospect of success
- Ability of employment judges to make deposit orders in respect of each issue (for instance unfair dismissal, disability discrimination, unlawful deduction from wages) which has little reasonable prospect of success
- Express provision to encourage parties to settle by way of judicial mediation
- Introducing tighter timetables for oral evidence.
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill
Provisions on employee-ownerships allow employers to offer an employee a contract entitling the employee to shares of a minimum of £2,000 in exchange for losing the right to claim unfair dismissal, request flexible working and statutory redundancy pay.
Public sector equality duty
Report of the government’s review of the public sector duties due to be published.
Amendments to civil litigation funding and costs (Jackson Reforms) come into force.
Statutory pay and benefits
- Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increases from £135.45 to £136.78 per week
- Statutory sick pay increases from £85.85 to £86.70
- Lower Earnings Limit increases from £107 to £109 per week.
15 July 2013
Introduction of fees in employment tribunals
1 October 2013
- Abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board
- New National Minimum Wage rates come into force
For more details, read our article on Employment Law briefing 2013 - Key diary dates, or download