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What’s in the Pipeline for Employment Law…? What’s in the Pipeline for Employment Law…?

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Mar 13

What’s in the Pipeline for Employment Law…?

Written by What’s in the Pipeline for Employment Law…?

Over 80 representatives from 50 local businesses attended Raworths’ Spring Employment Law Seminars to find out. Deborah Boylan, Head of the Employment Team said: ‘Clients find it beneficial to attend specialist employment seminars providing an outline of the impeding changes to employment legislation and Tribunal rules. Clients can then prepare their business accordingly.’

In 2011, the Government turned the spotlight on employment law as part of its ‘Red Tape Challenge’. The aim was to assist businesses and boost economic recovery in a difficult climate. Throwing down the gauntlet for reform, it recognised the conflicting factors faced by businesses in balancing the employment relationship:

  • The need to protecting employees from unfair practices, with both staff and employers being clear about their rights and responsibilities.
  • The already-copious, complicated and restrictive regulations making it difficult for businesses to create new jobs and manage the current ones.

In 2012, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill heralded the new legal framework intended to stem the flow of litigation in the Employment Tribunal. Notoriously costly, time-consuming and damaging for business, Tribunal claims are seen as a very real barrier to job creation. The speakers at Raworths’ Seminar examined in more detail the Government’s proposals to simplify the process where disputes arise in the workplace and the Tribunal beckons. Employers were advised of the implications of the laws for their businesses. A realistic approach was explored as to what the new regime would actually mean in practice.

Victoria Notman, an employment lawyer in the team, explained the reforms aimed at keeping claims out of the Tribunal:

  • The scope of pre-termination negotiations (previously known as ‘protected conversations’) to allow ‘a boss and an employee to sit down together and have a frank conversation’ without reprisals in the Tribunal.
  • Compulsory pre-claim ACAS conciliation to encourage early settlement of post-termination disputes.
  • Simplification of the process for compromising claims via the new Settlement Agreements.

Another member of the Employment Law team, solicitor Liz Pollock, explained the reforms aimed at expediting the Tribunal process and other wider issues:

  • New Tribunal fees for issuing claims and proceeding to a hearing.
  • Capping the unfair dismissal compensatory award.
  • The introduction of discretionary financial penalties for employers who lose in Tribunal.
  • New provisions for whistle-blowers.
  • Employee-shareholder contracts and what they mean in practice.

Forewarned is forearmed – a useful approach for dispute avoidance, as any employment lawyer will tell you. Attendees at the Raworths’ Seminar gained an essential insight into the key changes that lie ahead. Armed with this knowledge they can now make informed decisions and confidently take their businesses forward into a successful future. Whilst the floodgates of legislation are opening, the tide of litigation may be turning.  It remains to be seen what will happen in practice.

Victoria Notman is a solicitor at Raworths LLP specialising in employment. To contact Raworths telephone 01423 566666 or visit our offices at Eton House, 89 Station Parade, Harrogate, HG1 1HF. Alternatively, you can email victoria.notman@raworths.co.uk

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