Top 5 employment law issues for 2014

by Laurie Anstis on January 14, 2014

After my predictions for 2011, 2012 and 2013, these are what I think will be the most significant employment law issues for 2014.

1. Tribunal tactics

Early conciliation, tribunal fees, the “sift”, preliminary hearings, compulsory equal pay audits and financial penalties for employers – all things we did not have at the start of 2013 but will have by the end of 2014.

It’s an entirely new landscape, and one with considerable possibilities for litigants to develop new tactics and ways of running cases to their advantage. A lot of this – particularly with tribunal fees – will be in the hands of the employer, but it is not all one way. Expect employees to try to make the most of the new financial penalties regime and the threat of compulsory audits in equal pay cases.

2. Judicial reviews

The outcome of the Unison judicial review of employment tribunal fees is awaited, but if successful will have an enormous effect on employment law. There is a separate judicial review application in respect of the decision to reduce the cap on compensation for unfair dismissal, which gives another reason to watch the Administrative Court.

3.  Collective redundancy consultation

Will the Court of Appeal overturn the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision in Woolworths? We’ll find out later this year.

4. Whistleblowing

The reduction in compensation for unfair dismissal will inevitably throw even greater focus on routes to uncapped compensation, such as whistleblowing claims. Following changes in 2013, the government is undertaking a further review of the law on whistleblowing and more changes can be expected.

5. Extensions to family-friendly rights

Cases such as CD v ST and Z v A Community School are testing the limits of maternity law in the European Union, while developing case law in Strasbourg also looks to be extending the scope of family-friendly rights. I hope to be able to write in more detail about this soon, but regardless of how those cases develop, in domestic UK law shared parental leave will be debated ahead of its introduction in 2015.

Finally, a new President of the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales will take up their position this year. It has traditionally been a role with a low public profile, but the new President will have the opportunity to set the tone for the whole employment tribunal system in England and Wales, and make their own changes as they see fit. With the new rules permitting formal Presidential Guidance, a new President has never had greater opportunity to make their mark and influence the overall system.

Whatever happens during 2014, one of the best places for employment law discussion will be the Hard Labour blog, established by Sean Jones QC with a wide range of contributors. If you are interested in employment law, but haven’t subscribed to the blog, you are missing out.

For more about employment law, check out my recommended books.