Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Vince Cable to make radical reforms to employment law

If you are one of my non-UK visitors, and stats tell me that's quite likely, then you are probably thinking, Vince Cable, who the heck is that, and why do I have to care about his policies. If you are from the UK I think there is a slightly greater chance that you know who he is, by name at least.

Vince Cable is from a very small marginal party, called the Liberal Democrats, who due to a strange electoral anomaly suddenly found themselves as part of a coalition government.

However what makes Vince Cable particularly interesting is that he is in fact an Alien, he appears to be a very intelligent person, but I have from a reliable source that he is not human, an extraterrestrial agent, tasked with infiltrating the british government, that explains how a ridiculous small party could suddenly find themselves in a position of power and why Vince always seems to know things before everybody else. Once you know this its actually easy to spot the signs. I encourage you to watch some of his interviews, watch what happens when he is asked a question, he tips his head slightly to the side,  and his eyes begin to blink rapidly, that's when he is downloading information from the mothership, and deliver his thoughts which are usually progressive and unusually intelligent for a politician. Even if he is a bit of a banker-basher.

If you are foreign, it's okay to stop reading now. If you are interested in UK labour law (and you should be if you are either an employer or an employee) I encourage you to read on.            

So anyway Vince Cable has announced proposals of radical reforms to employment law as part of Government’s plan for growth, cutting unnecessary demands on business while safeguarding workers’ rights. The proposals intend to improve the recruitment, management and exit of staff as well as managing disputes. The speech is available on the BIS website.

A summary of the main proposals announced include;

  • Increasing the qualifying period for employees to claim unfair dismissal to two years.
  • Claims to go through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) first in order to attempt resolution through conciliation for a basic period of one month, if conciliation fails, claims can then go to a tribunal.
  • Consultation in 2012 on the introduction of protected conversations – to allow employers to discuss employment related issues with employees openly, e.g. to address poor performance or retirement without fear of risking a tribunal claim.
  • A full review of the employment tribunal rules and procedures being led by Mr Justice Underhill. A revised recommended procedural code to be prepared by end of April 2012.
  • Discretionary power for employment tribunals to impose financial penalties for those employers found to breach employment rights, payable to the Exchequer. 
  • Consultation on introducing a ‘Rapid Resolution Scheme’ which intends to deal with simple, low cost claims in a timely manner as an alternative to the tribunal route.
  • Consultation for compromise agreements to be simplified and re-named ‘settlement agreements’. Government to consider amending the Employment Rights Act 1996 to allow such agreements to cover existing and future claims.  
  • Ministry of Justice to publish a consultation on the introduction of fees for tribunal claims, two options to be considered. Option one: fee to lodge a claim and a second fee to take the claim to a hearing and option two: threshold of £30,000 so that anyone seeking an award of more than this will pay more.
  • Amendments to the Public Interest Disclosure Act to prevent employees from claiming breach of contract.  
  • From 2013, portable Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) disclosures which can be viewed online by employers. Changes are being led by the Home Office. 
  • Improved and modernised family-friendly leave.
  • Combine all 17 of the National Minimum Wage regulations into one, to help simplify the regulations for employers to digest.
  • To ‘slim down’ the current dismissal process with the view of potentially working with ACAS to make changes to the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
  • Employment judges to sit alone in unfair dismissal cases
  • Consultation to streamline the regulatory regime for the recruitment sector.

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