Several important changes to areas of employment law came into force yesterday on 25th June 2013 relating to the following: –
- changes to whistleblowing;
- changes to the compensatory award cap;
- changes to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) procedure; and
- changes to the unfair dismissal qualifying period where the reason relates to political opinions.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 is to be amended to reflect the fact that a disclosure will only be protected if the employer reasonably believes that the disclosure is made in the public interest. In addition, a disclosure will no longer have to be made in good faith.
Unfair dismissal compensatory awards to be limited to either a set amount or a certain number of weeks’ pay (whichever is lowest) in any event the set amount should not be lower than median annual earnings or higher than three times the median annual earnings. The compensatory award is capped at £74,200 or 52 weeks’ pay. The Department for Business Innovations and Skills (BIS) has indicated that the median will be somewhere between £26,000 and £78,000.
The composition of the Employment Appeal Tribunal is to change to one judge sitting alone to hear appeals.
Unfair dismissal and political opinion
The reforms introduced by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 will remove the two year qualifying period for unfair dismissal protection where the main reason for the dismissal is the employee’s political opinions or affiliations. It is not intended to be a new basis for discrimination or an automatic unfair dismissal claim. The fairness of the dismissal will be based on whether the employer followed a fair procedure on the grounds of some other substantial reason.
Laura Allanson is an Associate Solicitor and Head of the Employment Department at BHW Solicitors in Leicester. Laura can be contacted on 0116 281 6237 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.