Government reforms: (1) Updated timetable

government reformsThe Government has published an updated implementation timetable for the provisions of its central reform package, set out in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA). There is little in the timetable that was not already known and covered in our May 2013 newsletter, Government Reforms: finalised, but just as a reminder these are the reforms that came in this month:

25 June 2013

  • Qualifying period for unfair dismissal removed for an unfair dismissal claim where the main reason for dismissal is the employee’s political opinions or affiliation;
  • Whistle-blowing – need for a public interest element;
  • Whistle-blowing – no longer be a requirement that the disclosure has been made in “good faith”; and
  • The EAT’s composition is to be streamlined by removing the requirement for two lay members to sit with the judge in most cases.

In addition:

  • The introduction of personal liability for employees who victimise whistle-blowers, and vicarious liability for their employers. This applies to disclosures made on or after that date.

Other reforms that now have a finalised date include:

29 July 2013

  • Tribunal fees: Please see below Government Reforms: (2) Tribunal rules and fees
  • Tribunal rules: Please see below Government Reforms: (2) Tribunal rules and fees

July 2013

  • Compensatory award cap: the unfair dismissal compensatory award will be limited to the lower of the current statutory cap (£74,200 from 1 February) or the claimant’s annual net salary. This will apply to all dismissals occurring after that July date.

Summer 2013

  • The introduction of statutory “settlement agreements” and the prevention of pre-settlement discussions from being referred to in evidence in an unfair dismissal case (see below Government Reforms: (3) Settlement Agreements & the final ACAS Code).

1 October 2013

  • Repealing the provision that makes employers liable for harassment of their employees by third parties in certain circumstances.

25 October 2013

From 25 October 2013, in respect of any claims lodged after that date, Tribunals will be able to order additional financial penalties against employers who have breached workers’ rights, where the breach has any “aggravating factor” (no clear definition yet). Where the employer is unsuccessful at hearing, the Tribunal will be able to order the employer to pay a penalty of between £100 and £5,000. The penalty will be halved if the employer pays it within 21 days of the Tribunal’s decision.

6 April 2014

  • introduction of ACAS early conciliation scheme; and
  • abolition of statutory (discrimination) questionnaires.

There will most likely be a few more reforms under ERRA in 2014 but we’ll update you on those nearer the time.