Five employment law changes effective

From Monday 29 July 2013 the following five changes to employment law came into force:

•Unfair dismissal awards: The compensatory award for unfair dismissal claims will be capped at the lower of £74,200 or one year’s gross pay (not including pension contributions, benefits-in-kind or discretionary bonuses).
•ET rules: New Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure are being introduced. Changes include an initial sift stage to determine whether a claim or response should be struck out; the combining of PHRs and CMDs into a single ‘preliminary hearing’; and an obligation on the tribunal to encourage the parties to use alternative dispute resolution.
•ET fees: Claimants will have to pay a fee to lodge an employment tribunal claim and a further fee to proceed to a hearing. These fees will be up to £250 to lodge the claim and up to £950 for the hearing, depending on the type of claim. Fees are also being introduced at the EAT. Respondents will in some circumstances have to pay fees, for example for applications to reconsider default judgments or final hearing judgments.
•Compromise agreements: These are being renamed as settlement agreements. Non-statutory Acas guidance is to follow.
•Pre-settlement discussions: Evidence of pre-termination negotiations, where no dispute had arisen, will no longer be admissible in unfair dismissal cases unless there has been ‘improper behaviour’. An Acas Code of Practice on settlement agreements has been released to accompany this development.

This article first appeared in Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service, and has been reproduced with their permission. For more information about Law-Now, click here.