Major transformation of Employment Law

Vince Cable, Business Secretary, today outlined plans for the “most radical shake-up of employment law in decades.”

Ministers have planned the “most radical shake-up of employment law in decades.”
The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, outlined the plans today in a speech to the Engineering Employers Federation. The changes should result in Government savings of more than £10m and will benefit employers by £40m.

Under the proposed changes there is to be a consultation on “protected conversations”, which aims to allow employers to be able to have honest discussions with workers about poor performance without fearing that what they say could be used as evidence in a tribunal. Cable announced that the Government is also considering reducing the length of time that is required for a consultation period on planned redundancies from the current ninety days to thirty days.

Cable went on to say that there will now be a requirement for all claims to be put to the conciliation service, Acas, before they can reach an employment tribunal. Options will be put in place for a “rapid resolution scheme” to allow less complex cases to be resolved within three months. The Business Secretary confirmed one of the changes will be that an employee cannot claim for unfair dismissal until they have been employed for two years. This will come into effect in April 2012.

The plans have been welcomed by business leaders who are seeking for the changes to be implemented quickly. Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Mandatory Acas involvement and new claimant fees will make the system fairer by ensuring that baseless claims are weeded out and the pressure to settle is reduced.”

However, there is disquiet amongst unions who feel that the changes will make it harder for employees to bring forward legitimate claims. Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said “These changes will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of workers to bring cases of victimisation, unfairness and bullying at work.”

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