Significant employment law and practice changes from 29 July 2013

Significant employment law and practice changes from 29 July 2013

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Author: Kevin McCavish

Monday 29 July 2013 will see some very significant changes to employment law and practice and employers and individuals need to make sure they are ready!

1.    Fees for applications in employment tribunals and EAT

For the first time, it will be necessary to pay a fee in order to lodge a claim in the Employment Tribunal or an appeal in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (or apply for a fee remission).

Employers will also have to pay fees for certain applications in tribunal such as breach of contract counter-claims and judicial mediation (which will attract a fee of £600).

The amount of fee payable will depend upon the type of claim, simpler claims such as unlawful deduction from wages (Type A claims) will attract a lower fee than unfair dismissal or discrimination claims (Type B claims).

Where a claimant has multiple claims the fee payable will be that relating to the highest level of claim.

Claimants in the employment tribunal will be required to pay a fee both on issue of a claim and, if the claim proceeds, prior to any hearing, as follows:

Fee type

Type A claims

Type B claims

Issue fee

£160

£250

Hearing fee

£230

£950

Total (potential) fees

£390

£1,200

While fees for claims are payable in advance, the tribunal will have the power to order an unsuccessful party to reimburse the fees of a successful party.

It will cost £400 to issue an appeal and £1,200 to proceed to a full hearing at the EAT.

Any claim or appeal in the system before 29 July 2013 will be outside the new fee regime so time is running out to get claims in without having to pay the fee. The latest time for online submission of Employment Tribunal Claim Forms will be 4pm on Friday, 26th July i.e. claimants will not be able to issue claims online over the weekend.

Further information

Ministry of Justice fact sheet
Employment Tribunal Fees for Individuals
Employment Tribunal Fees for Groups and Multiples
Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees
ET and EAT Fees: Do I have to pay them?

2.    New ET1 form

A revised ET1 claim form will be introduced so that from Monday, 29 July 2013 the new claim form should be used to present a claim.

3.    New rules of procedure for employment tribunals in England and Wales

Users of employment tribunals will have to get to grips with a new set of procedural rules. The current rules have been criticised as inadequate in places and not user friendly. The new rules are shorter and drafted in plain English. The new rules introduce numerous changes to nomenclature, practice and procedure. For example, "case management discussions" and "pre-hearing reviews" will be merged and known simply as "preliminary hearings".

Further information

See our recent article: New Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure: the essentials

Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013

4.    New cap on compensation in unfair dismissal cases

 

The Unfair Dismissal (Variation of the Limit of Compensatory Award) Order 2013 sets the cap for compensation in unfair dismissal cases at the lower of the current cap (£74,200) or one years' gross pay. The new cap will apply where the effective date of termination is on or after 29 July.

5.    Compromise agreements renamed settlement agreements

This is really a change of style rather than substance but any existing precedent agreements will need to be amended to reflect this change.

6.    Pre-termination discussions to be inadmissible in unfair dismissal cases in certain circumstances

Unlike the existing "without prejudice" rule, confidential discussions will be able to be initiated as a means of ending the employment relationship before any formal "dispute" has arisen and any pre-termination discussions will not be able to be referred to in evidence in unfair dismissal cases. However, there are some exceptions to this exclusion, including where there has been "improper behaviour". It should be noted that this new legislation will not extend to claims relating to discrimination.

Further information

See our recent article: New regime for compromise agreements

7.    New ACAS Code of practice on settlement agreements

This statutory code provides good practice guidance on the use of settlement agreements.

Further information

Code of Practice on Settlement Agreements (the Code is at the end of the consultation document, to which this link goes)