23rd November 2011

Employment Law Reforms

It is understandable that the government wants to reduce the cost of the employment tribunal system. On the other hand employers and employees who use the system want it to be as efficient and user friendly as possible. It is by no means certain that the latest reforms will successfully reconcile these objectives.

The length of the qualifying period for claiming unfair dismissal has been a political pendulum since the right to claim was introduced in 1971. It has been two years before, and as little as six months. While the increase to two years will reduce the number of unfair dismissal claims employers should arguably not take as long as two years to identify underperforming employees.

The proposed introduction of fees for tribunal claimants from 2013 which the Chancellor announced last month is not entirely consistent with the concept of easy access to justice which the employment tribunal system was originally intended to provide. It would be an easy step for this to be extended to fees for employers who have to resist tribunal claims, and so employers should perhaps be cautious in welcoming this. There must also be a concern about whether the system of fees would be cost effective to manage.

The idea of early conciliation requiring all potential claimants to submit their claims to ACAS before coming to an employment tribunal is fine in theory but it will only work effectively if ACAS have adequate resources to deal with potential claims promptly and efficiently.

The proposal for “protected conversations” allowing employers to have frank discussions about poor performance with employees without the fear that they can be used as evidence in an employment tribunal seems an unnecessary complication. Employers should not be afraid to tell employees when they are underperforming and it is not clear why that conversation needs to be “protected”.

The call for evidence on the length of time required for consultation on proposed redundancies (with a view to reducing the period from 90 days in some cases to 30 days) feels like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, unless of course the government is taking a very pessimistic view on future growth and employment prospects.

The government are right to recognise that the best way to reduce the burden on the employment tribunal system is to resolve disputes within the workplace. It remains to be seen whether their proposals to encourage workplace mediation and to simplify and promote the use of compromise agreements will a achieve this.

Simon Allison
Partner – Employment Law

The opinions expressed in this site are of the author(s) only and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Blackadders LLP.

Blackadders takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the content of this site is accurate and up to date. The site is not, however, intended as a substitute for seeking legal or other professional advice but rather as an informative guide to the services provided by Blackadders and topical legal developments. Site visitors should always seek advice tailored to their specific situation. Consequently, Blackadders accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by anyone acting or failing to act on the basis of information contained on this site. Downloading of material contained on this site is at the user’s own risk and all necessary virus checks must first be carried out by the user. Blackadders is not responsible for the material found on any web sites linked to this one and links to this site may only be made with Blackadders prior consent.

Copyright

Blackadders owns the copyright in this blog and all material contained on it. The material on this site may be downloaded for personal use only and must not be altered. Otherwise, Blackadders’ written consent is required before any material on this site is reproduced, copied or transmitted in any way.

Privacy Statement

Information passed to us via this site is kept confidential and will not be disclosed to third parties except if authorised by you or required by law.

© Blackadders LLP 2022

Members of the Law Society of Scotland.

Blackadders Solicitors is a trading name of Blackadders LLP, a limited liability partnership, registered in Scotland No SO301600 whose registered office is 30 & 34 Reform Street, Dundee, DD1 1RJ. Reference to a ‘partner’ is to a member of Blackadders LLP.

Back to Business Legal News from Blackadders Solicitors