Since the Coalition Government came to power in 2010, it has undertaken an intensive programme of employment law reform as part of its Parliament-long Employment Law Review and the employment-related aspects of its ‘Red Tape Challenge’. While we have already seen significant changes, such as the increase in the qualifying period for claiming unfair dismissal, 29 July arguably marks the introduction of the most far-reaching changes yet with, among other things, the introduction of employment tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal fees and the implementation of the revised employment tribunal procedure rules.
Measures coming into force on 29 July 2013 include:
the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1237 . Among other changes, the new rules combine separate case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews into one preliminary hearing and introduce an initial paper sift.
a new ET1 claim form to be used. The online submission service will not accept claims from 4 pm on Friday 26 July until Monday 29 July
employment tribunal and EAT fees. Tribunal fees will be charged in two stages, the first at the issue of the claim, and the second prior to the hearing. HM Courts and Tribunals Service has stated that any claim, case or appeal in the system before fees are implemented will not attract any fee payments. For more detail on the new fee regime see our feature in Brief 975. The introduction of fees is currently the subject of separate judicial review proceedings in both England and Wales and Scotland. Should the legal challenge be successful, HMCTS has said that it will make arrangements to reimburse any fees that have already been paid.
a cap of 52 weeks’ pay on unfair dismissal compensatory awards in addition to the current cap of £74,200. The Unfair Dismissal (Variation of the Limit of Compensatory Award) Order 2013 is currently only available in draft form
most offers made, or discussions held, with a view to terminating an employee’s contract on agreed terms, will be inadmissible as evidence to a tribunal in an unfair dismissal claim.
interest on unpaid tribunal awards accrues from the day after the decision unless the award is paid in full within 14 days. See the Employment Tribunals (Interest) Order (Amendment) Order 2013 SI 2013/1671
pre-judgment interest on awards in discrimination cases increases from 0.5 per cent to 8 per cent in England and Wales, as is currently the case in Scotland. See the Employment Tribunals (Interest on Awards in Discrimination Cases)(Amendment) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1669
S.15(10) ERRA, which deals with the powers of the Secretary of State in relation to compensatory awards comes into force. See the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2013 SI 2013/1648