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Government Consultations

Update 17/07/12

From Summer 2013, the Government has now confirmed that applicants for Level 2 (full hearing claims) for discrimination, equal pay or unfair dismissal will have to pay set fees.

The fee will be £1,200 which needs to be paid in advance. This is made up of £250 for lodging the claim and a further £950 once the hearing begins.

For Level 1 claims which include unpaid wages or redundancy pay there will be a fee of £390 this includes an initial fee of £160 and £230 if/when the hearing goes ahead.

A claimant could also pursue mediation from a judge rather than go forward with a full hearing, this has been offered as a positive alternative and will cost £600. A significant difference to the original £1,300 suggestion in the original consultation which shows that the Government are keen to encourage claimants down this route.
Low income claimants can seek exemption under the exisiting remission system.

The idea behind the fees to encourage people to look for alternatives and if they cannot do that then to pay a “fair” contribution to the sytem. At the moment the tax payer foots the bill when claims are taken to tribunal.

People on low incomes will be able to seek exemption from the fees under the same remission system which already exists for court users who pay fees to use the civil courts.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said: “It is in everyone’s interest to avoid drawn out disputes which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses. That’s why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives like mediation.”

News update:

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill is still being heard in the House of Commons, interviews are going ahead today 19/6/2012. The Government will not be pursuing the “compensated no fault dismissals” proposal. New Legislation will be introduced into the bill on 19th July to allow employers to make a termination package offer without fear of it being raised in a tribunal claim.

Updated 29/05/12

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill has been published by the Government. These Bills will need to be passed through both Houses of Parliament before they come into force.

The Bill includes changes to the Employment Tribunal system and the Dispute Resolution processes. This Bill is part of the Governments commitment to reforming the Employment Tribunal sytem.

Claimaints in an employment dispute must send information to Acas in attempt for settlement before lodging their claim;

Allow for certain employment tribunal claims to be heard by legal officers (who will be appointed in accordance with regulations), only if  both parties agree;

The Employment Appeal Tribunal rules will be changed so that appeals will be heard by a judge sitting alone, unless a judge directs otherwise;

The Secretary of State will be given the power to change, by order, the limit on the unfair dismissal compensatory aware to median annual earnings, three times median annual earnings or 52 times the week’s pay of the claimant concerned;

Introduce a power for employment trinbunals to order employers that have breached workers’ rights to pay a financial penalty of between £100 and £5,000 where there are “aggravating features”, the penalty being, in most cases, 50% of the amoutn of any award that the tribunal has made against the employer;

Rename compromise agreements as “settlement agreements”;

clarify that, to be protected against automatically unfair dismissal, whistleblowers must make their disclosure “in the public interest”.

Updated 01/05/12

Employment Law Proposals 2012 at a glance:-

An Employment Tribunal Fee Structure  – consultation now closed to responses (6th March 2012) no more details announced yet.

There are 2 proposals with differing fee structure options. These will be dependent on the amount being claimed and there will be various fees depending on specific applications. 

Costs, Awards and Deposits – consultation now closed to responses (6th March 2012) no more details announced yet.

 They are looking to increase the costs that can be awarded against the unsuccessful party by 100% , from £10,000 to £20,000. Also, they propose to increase the amount an Employment Judge can order a party to pay if they consider a claim to have little reasonable prospect of success, from £500 to £1,000.

 Flexible Working – consultations closed in August 2011 and the Government response is expected shortly.  

 Various proposals have been outlined:

 Fathers would be allowed unpaid leave to attend antenatal appointments

 Mothers would have an 18 week period of maternity leave, this would then be followed by a new 34 week period of shared parental leave.  (This has been postponed until March 2013)

 All employees who have 26 weeks’ continuous employment will have the right to request flexible working, regardless of whether or not they have children

Protected Conversations – consultations ongoing

 A Government consultation into introducing a system of protected conversations, which would allow employers to raise issues such as poor performance or retirement plans in an open way, without the fear that it will be used against them in tribunal, is underway.

 ACAS Conciliation – consultation now closed to responses (November 2011) no more details announced yet.

 The government are proposing that before submitting a tribunal claim, the claimant will have to submit details to ACAS. They will then be offered to engage in pre-claim conciliation, although there is no obligation.

These are the key proposals and no time frame has been announced as yet.