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/ 03 Oct 2011

EMPLOYMENT – Chancellor Announces Significant Employment Law Reforms

In his speech to the Conservative Party Conference today, and in a move likely to please the CBI and other business groups, George Osborne has announced two significant reforms to current employment law:

Firstly, the amount of time an employee has to have worked for a company before being able to bring an unfair dismissal claim has doubled from 1 year to 2 years. This change will come into affect on 6 April 2012.

Secondly, for the first time workers will have to pay in order to bring a claim at the Employment Tribunal.

The planned fees are as follows:
• £250 to lodge an application
• £1,000 payable by the worker when the hearing is listed

The fees will be higher if the claim is over £30,000.00.

The fees will be refundable if the claim is successful and there are plans for fees to be waived for those without the means to pay (although the precise details have not yet been released). The aim of these reforms is to give a helping hand to businesses by discouraging vexatious applications to the Employment Tribunal. The Government claims that such reforms will save UK businesses 6 million a year and decrease the number of unfair dismissal claims brought by 2,000 annually.

It’s not all good news for employers though as, there is scepticism amongst professionals as to whether the change to the qualifying period will actually reduce the number of claims made to the Tribunal. It could be that employees who have insufficient service to bring an unfair dismissal claim will simply bring a claim under discrimination legislation where there is no service requirement. Trade Unions and Human Resources professional bodies have also expressed concerns that the reforms will encourage a ‘hire and fire’ approach that will be detrimental to workers and encourage rash behaviour on the part of employers.

For any queries, advice or representation (as an Employer or Employee) on employment law issues please contact one of our employment law solicitors here at Hanne & Co on 020 7228 0017 or email info@hanne.co.uk

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