Heads up

18 Jan 2013

These predictions are, of course subject to the Parliamentary Timetable and, in particular, the progress of two Bills: The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill and The Growth and Infrastructure Reform Bill.  

February:
The annual increase in compensation limits.  The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise to £74,200 and the limit on a week’s pay will rise to £450. 

March: 
Abolition of the provision for harassment and discrimination statements and questionnaires.

Unpaid Parental Leave will increase from 13 weeks to 18 weeks (the annual limit of 4 weeks will remain).

April: 
The collective redundancy consultation period in cases involving more than 100 dismissals will be reduced from 90 days to 45 days.

Claimants will be prevented from bringing whistle-blowing claims arising from alleged breaches of personal employment contracts unless there is a clear public interest element.

Employee shareholder schemes may commence.

June: 
Introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunal.

July/August: 
Mandatory pre-claim conciliation through ACAS. 

Enhanced shareholder voting rights on directors’ pay.

Employment Tribunals to have power to order Pay Audits after making findings of discrimination, increased powers to make deposit orders and penalty awards.

Compensatory Awards in the Employment Tribunal may be capped by reference to median annual earnings.

Autumn: 
New model Settlement Agreements, standard letters and an ACAS Code of Practice on Settlements.

The Courts will also have a busy year.  We expect decisions from Europe on discrimination (the continuing sagas concerning the wearing of a crucifix and objecting to performing civil partnership ceremonies and counselling same sex couples on religious grounds), strike ballots and their legality under the Human Rights Convention and the effect of collective agreements following a TUPE transfer.  It will be surprising if we do not also receive another decision about the accrual of holiday during a period when a worker is incapacitated. 

The Supreme Court will be looking at TUPE in the context of anticipatory pre-transfer dismissals and administrations, the extent of an employee's fiduciary duties while under notice and representation at disciplinary hearings.

The Court of Appeal's agenda includes the apportionment of liability between Respondents when the law says liability is joint and several, employees rejecting alternative employment for personal reasons, double jeopardy and the trigger for employers’ obligations to consult about collective redundancies. 

As usual, we will be keeping you informed of the most significant developments when they occur.