David Gibson Crutes

Member Article

Getting to grips with Employment Law changes

Many of you may have read the recent proposals put forward by Vince Cable in relation to changes to employment law. They can be seen as:

  • An attempt to restore order.
  • Reduce the burden on businesses especially flexibility in relation to periods of redundancy consultation and dismissal.
  • An attempt to bring the Employment Tribunal procedures more into line with standard practices within the County/High Court.
  • Or are they just to return to the bad old days?

Well - rather like those puzzling pictures where two images can be seen as one - it depends on your perspective. Certainly, employers will welcome the fact that there will be an increase in the qualifying period to two years for bringing a claim for unfair dismissal and, the introduction of payment schedules for lodging a claim may well be welcomed in preventing vexatious claims. However, employers should still take certain lessons from the changes that are taking place. Importantly, in The Tipster?s view having recourse to litigation is in many ways a sign of failure, often by both sides. In relation to capability procedures the best way to avoid claims for unfair dismissal on the grounds of capability of an employee (in relation to work performance) is to ensure the recruitment procedure is right and that you are getting the right people for the right job and appropriate training is provided. Reviewing recruitment policies and providing and listening to employees regarding training and the level of supervision they require is actually potentially a cost saving measure.

Also, employers should be aware that the government intends to allow Tribunals to introduce financial penalties (which will be payable to Exchequer) on employers being found to have breached employment rights where the employers behaviour in committing the breach had aggravating features e.g. unreasonable behaviour by the employer, including negligence/malice. Financial penalties are capped at £5,000 and can be reduced if there is prompt payment but employers should be aware that Tribunals will be flexing muscle.

As always it is best to look beyond the headlines and get some good advice from your employment advisers as to how the changes could impact on your position. There is a changing landscape out there and both employers and employees must quickly adapt.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by David Gibson .

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