Proposals to reform employment law and employment tribunals

by Laurie Anstis on January 10, 2011

There are reports today of the government’s plans to reform employment law and the employment tribunal system, which are set to be published for consultation later this week.

According to the reports, the Prime Minister is expected to launch the proposals at a “jobs summit” with major employers today.

As has been widely expected, the proposals are set to include an increase in the length of service needed to claim unfair dismissal from one to two years and a fee for starting employment tribunal claims. The BBC report that this fee would be recoverable if the employee won – presumably from the employer, rather than being returned to the employee by the tribunal.

Less well trailed were the proposals for exemptions for small employers and a reduction in the period for which statutory sick pay is payable. There have been exemptions for small employers before – there was an exemption for small employers from disability discrimination law when it was first introduced – and there continue to be some minor exemptions for (very) small employers from, for instance, the requirement to provide access to a stakeholder pension and having a written health and safety policy. It will be interesting to see what any new proposed exemptions are. It would be a radical step to exempt small employers from unfair dismissal law, but in many other areas of employment law (for example, most forms of discrimination claims) the government’s freedom to make exemptions is restricted by European law.

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