4th November 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful (for Employers) in the Final Quarter of 2014

  • Tribunal Fees 

Employees now have to pay fees to bring claims to the employment tribunal.  For unfair dismissal and discrimination claims there is a lodging fee of £250 (payable on lodging the claim), and a further hearing fee of £950 (payable 4 weeks before the hearing).

The introduction of tribunal fees has seen a reduction of approximately 70% in the number of tribunal cases being brought compared with the numbers prior to the introduction of fees.  Fees are clearly acting as a deterrent and, in the current climate, employers are less likely to face claims if they dismiss.

  • ACAS Early Conciliation

ACAS Early Conciliation is now mandatory. This means that a claimant must initiate contact with ACAS before lodging a tribunal claim. This allows employers an opportunity to resolve disputes before legal costs are incurred. Again this process acts as a further hurdle for employees to overcome before lodging a claim.

  • Cap on compensation

Compensation for unfair dismissal is now capped at the lesser of £76,574 or 12 months’ gross pay. This allows employers greater certainty in assessing potential costs for negotiating settlement agreements or negotiating exit packages.

  • Qualifying service

Employees need to have 2 years’ continuous service before they can raise claims of unfair dismissal. This allows employers greater flexibility and more time to decide whether a new employee is worthy of retaining on a long term basis.

  • Pre-termination negotiations 

Pre-termination discussions allow employers to have “off the record” discussions with employees even where there is no existing dispute.  Such discussions cannot be referred to during any subsequent unfair dismissal proceedings and allow the employer another opportunity to take action against employees.

Come and speak to us …

At the moment, the legislation is weighted in favour of the employer. However these factors are likely to change next year. Employers should seize the opportunity now to take action against difficult or underperforming employees. Those difficult conversations are made slightly less difficult by reason of the current system which provides some comfort for employers.

We are problem solvers.  If you have an employment law query – give us a ring.  A member of the team will happily have an initial discussion with you to assess whether you should take more detailed advice.  Act now, or repent later ….

Simon Allison                          Jack Boyle
Partner                                    Senior Solicitor
(01382) 229222                     (01382) 229222
@EmpLawyerSimon               @EmpLawyerJack

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