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Business Secretary, Dr Vince Cable, announces today

A partner in our employment team, heard the Business Secretary, Dr Vince Cable, announced today (23rd November 2011) the following proposals in a speech given this morning at the Engineering Employers Federation. Our observations are in brackets. This is only a heads-up as much more detail will be required.

1. There will be a requirement for all parties to consider going through a conciliation process before a tribunal hearing.

2. Government will introduce protected conversations so that employer and employee can discuss matters between themselves “free from worry”. This is not to be limited to retirement situations. They will be consulting on the details. (Whilst government want this to be a “light touch” process important details, such as whether these conversations have to be mutually agreed, are unresolved. We think the details are likely to be complex.)

3. The requirements for binding compromise agreements are to be simplified (No details given).

4. Government is considering an alternative to the classic employment tribunal hearing comprising a “rapid resolution scheme”, which may be dealt with on written evidence. (Little in the way of detail here).

5. A review of current employment tribunal rules is to be undertaken by Mr Justice Underhill with a view to simplification. (Good choice!).

6. Charges to bring tribunal claims will be the subject of a consultation to be undertaken by the Ministry of Justice. There will be two stages at which a fee may be charged;

When a claim is lodged; and
When the claim goes forward to a hearing.

There may be an additional fee if the amount claimed exceeds £30,000.

7. Whistleblowing laws will be changed to prevent people bringing claims based on a breach of their own contract. (This is new and very welcome. It will make it much more difficult to bring nuisance value whistleblowing claims).

8. The period for bringing a claim for unfair dismissal will be doubled from 1 year to 2 years. (Old news and will have little practical effect but it is intended to have a major impact on employer perceptions).

9. Government will undertake an analysis of two proposals:

A no-fault dismissal regime for micro firms (less than 10 employees – this is a modified Beecroft idea)
Slimming down of the dismissal process. (Again very little detail)

10. It will no longer be necessary to undertake CRB checks for each new job that is undertaken. They will be able to be checked online.

11. The Agency Worker Directive paperwork is to be reviewed and simplified.

12. The National Minimum Wage Regulations are to be consolidated into one set of rules.

13. There are to be two areas where further calls for evidence are to be made:

In collective redundancy procedures, it has been suggested that the 90-day consultation period can be too long. This may be modified to an alternative maximum period of 30/45/60 days, subject to consultation. (There is strong Union opposition to this proposal.), and The TUPE rules in relation to service provision are to be reviewed.

All of employment law remains under review and the stated intention is that 40% of the existing regulations will be merged and/or scrapped.

For more information please contact Sejal Raja


This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.