Employment Law Services

Employment Law Amendments – April 2012

Three new pieces of  employment law will come into force from 6 April 2012.

Of most interest (and benefit) to small employers will be  The Unfair Dismissal and Statement of Reasons for Dismissal (Variation of Qualifying Period) Order 2012, amendments to the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA).

The amendments will require many employees to have two years of service with an employer before they have a right to a written statement of the reasons for their dismissal.

The more significant & potentially beneficial amendment (unless it encourages claims to be made that do not require a minimum term of service – discrimination claims being a typical example) will be to section 108 of the ERA. For employees that start on or after 6 April 2012, the right to bring a claim for unfair dismissal will require two years service (the right is currently available after one year).

The second change to the law will be The Employment Tribunals Act 1996 (Tribunal Composition) Order 2012, which makes the following change:

‘In section 4(3)(c)(c) of the Employment Tribunals Act 1996, after “34” insert “, 111”.’

While perhaps appearing mundane – the law will be changed to include “, 111″ – this actually means that an employment judge sitting alone – without two lay members that normally represent the trade unions & business groups – will be able to hear cases of unfair dismissal.

Thirdly (but perhaps not finally – there are other employment law changes expected from the coalition government, and some could be introduced for April) is The Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Order 2012.

This amendment will help ensure that employers will be able enter into a compromise agreement in discrimination cases without fear that this may not be valid – the Equality Act, as currently drafted, could be read as meaning a “relevant adviser” could never be available.

Update (1 March): The orders have cleared an important stage – consideration by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments – and will now go before the House of Lords Grand Committee before becoming law on 6 April.