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Employent Law Reforms – February 2011

The Coalition Government’s consultations on Employment Law and Practice are under way – will this really help Small Business?

It’s sometimes hard to keep up with the coalition government’s plans to review employment legislation. So far very little has changed under the new government although we have been confused by the stop start approach that the coalition has adopted. However, the government has now put forward proposals for consultation to reform some key elements of employment law that may, on the face of it, encourage employers’ to be less hesitant when taking on staff. But watch out for the fly in the ointment!

Key points under consultation are

  • Measures to achieve earlier resolution of workplace disputes through pre-claim conciliation services provided by ACAS
  • Speeding up the Employment Tribunal process by allowing judges to sit alone in many cases and taking witness statements as read
  • Tackling weak and vexatious claims by introducing more flexible case management powers and encouraging judges to exercise powers to impose deposit orders and strike out vexatious claims
  • Increasing qualifying period for unfair dismissal from one to two years

All of this appears to be good news, at least on the face of it BUT, the government is also proposing to impose fines on employers who cannot show that they have adopted good practice in their employment policies and procedures, that have allowed cases to reach tribunal…this means a potential double whammy for employers who are found wanting.

Good reasons to get your free HR Healthcheck now!

Another word of warning, The Employer’s Charter appears to be a comforting document reassuring employers that they can manage their employment issues – but gives little guildance on the how. Many small employers may be misled into taking action before taking advice.