Employment law reforms announced

Posted: 28th November 2011

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced the Government’s proposals for reform of employment law, which aim to cut unnecessary demands on business whilst safeguarding workers’ rights.
The proposals include:
  • Increasing, from April 2012, the qualification period for unfair dismissal from one to two years;
  • Requiring all employment disputes to go to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service for pre-claim conciliation before going to an Employment Tribunal (ET);
  • An independent review of the existing rules of procedure governing ETs. This will seek to address concerns that they have become increasingly complex and inefficient over time and are no longer fit for purpose;
  • A consultation on the introduction of fees for anyone wishing to bring an ET claim;
  • Giving Employment Judges discretionary powers to impose financial penalties on employers whose behaviour in committing the breach had aggravating features;
  • A consultation on ‘protected conversations’, which allow employers to discuss issues like retirement or poor performance in an open manner with staff without anything said being used in any subsequent ET claims;
  • A further consultation on measures to simplify compromise agreements, which will be renamed ‘settlement agreements’;
  • A call for evidence on the consultation rules for collective redundancies and whether the current 90 day minimum period for more than 100 redundancies can be reduced;
  • A call for evidence on proposals to simplify the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations, which many businesses say are too complex and bureaucratic; and
  • The creation, from early 2012, of a universally portable Criminal Records Bureau check that can be viewed by employers online.
Consideration will also be given as to how and whether or not to introduce a ‘rapid resolution’ scheme, to offer a quicker and cheaper alternative to determination at an ET. Any proposals would then be the subject of a consultation.
The Government’s full response can be found here.