Employment Law

1. Criminal records checks; new filtering system in force – effective 29th May 2013

Certain old and minor cautions and convictions (protected convictions and cautions) will be filtered out and no longer disclosed when criminal records checks are made for roles involving working with vulnerable adults and chldren.

2. Changes to Whistleblowing Laws, Political Belief Dismissals, Agriculture Wage Board – effective 25th June 2013

Whistleblowing

  • Through the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, employees dismissed or subject to detriment as a result of complaining about a breach of their own contract of employment are no longer able to bring a whistleblowing claim
  • Employers are made vicariously liable for victimisation by colleagues of workers who have blown the whistle, unless they have taken steps to prevent this happening
  • The Act also removed the requirements that disclosures be made in good faith and if they aren’t, employment tribunals will be able to reduce compensation by up to 25% if just and equitable to do so.

3.  Political Belief Dismissals

The unfair dismissal qualifying period no longer applies wherethe main reason for dismissal is the employee’s political opinions or affilliation.

4.  Deposit Orders and Costs in Tribunals – effective 29th July 2013

The power for employment tribunals to make deposit order in relation to part of a claim or response and the power to award costs and expenses to litigants in person and came into force. Another change made by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act

5.  Abolition of the Agriculture Wage Board

The Agricultural Wages Board was abolished resulting in agricultural workers being paid the national minimum wage which is often lower than the minimum set by the Agricultural Wages Board.

6.Disclosure and Barring Service; Update Service – effective 17th June 2013

The Discllosure and Barring Service (DBS) launched its new Update Service enabling job applicants to re-use their DBS certificate for similar roles.Individuals will have the option of joining the Update Service for an annual fee of £13 and their DBS certificate will then be kept up to date and can be reused when applying for other roles with the same or different employer, provided that  the roles are similar i.e. the same level of disclosure is required in respect of tyhe same type of “workforce” i.e. working with children or adults or both

 7.  Employment Tribunal Fees Introduced – effective 29th July 2013

  • Fees are now charged for issuing and hearing tribunal claims and for various applications made during tribunal proceedings
  • Level 1 fees for simpler claims are £180 (issue) and £230 (hearing)
  • Level 2 fees for more complex claims including unfair dismissal and discrimination are £250 (issue) and £950 (hearing)
  • Claims already before the tribunal at this date are unaffected
  • costs and apply to all claims regardless of when they were issued

8.  Settlement Agreements – effective 29th July 2013

Employers can offer a settlement agreement at any time, irrespective of whether there is an existing dispute, with neither party being able to refer to the fact that an agreement has been offered in subsequent unfair dismissal proceedings should an agreement not be reached unless there has been improper behaviour.

9. Compensatory Award Cap

A cap on the compensatory award of one year’s pay has ben introduced .  The unfair dismissal compansatory award will be capped at one year’s pay or £74,200, whichever is lower, and will apply where the effective date of termination is on or after 29th July 2013.

10. September 2013

Employers can now offer employee shareholder contracts to new and existing staff, although existing staff cannot be forced to agree.  Under these contracts, employee shareholders must be given free shares worth at least £2,000. Shares issued up to £50,000 in value will qualify for capital gains.  In return, employee shareholders are required to give up their rights to claim unfair dismissal, a redundancy payment and to request flexible working and time off or training.