On 6th April 2014, employment law changes come into force that may affect you and your business.
Employment Tribunals – early conciliation
Currently if you dismiss one of your employees and they think it was unfair, they can bring an unfair dismissal claim against you in the Employment Tribunal (upon payment of a £250 fee).
After the 6th April, any ex-employee that believes they were unfairly dismissed must send details of their proposed claim to the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) before bringing the claim in an Employment Tribunal. This is in an attempt to settle claims before they get to the Tribunal.
Once ACAS receive details of a proposed claim, they will contact you (the former employer) to see if it can be settled. ACAS have 1 month to try and settle the claim and this will “stop the clock” on the usual 3 month Employment Tribunal claim time limit. If the claim can’t be settled within this 1 month period, the employee will be able to bring their claim in the Employment Tribunal as normal.
Employment Tribunals – financial penalties
After the 6th April, Employment Tribunals will have discretionary powers to impose financial penalties on you. In cases where a breach of an employee’s employment rights had “aggravating features” such as negligence or malice, a penalty of between £100 and £5,000 can be imposed. These penalties can be reduced by 50% if they are paid within 21 days.
Currently, only employees who are parents or carers for children are able to request “flexible working”. From 6th April, all employees will be able to make a flexible working request; the only qualifying criteria being that they must have worked for you for at least 26 weeks.
To reflect this change, you should have have a flexible working policy included in your staff handbook detailing the right to flexible working and the procedure to be adopted. Any flexible working requests should be dealt with in a “reasonable manner” – this will involve having consultation meetings with the employee and notifying them of your decision in writing within 3 months.
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