Statistics show a 43% increase in tribunal claims
The Employment Tribunal Service has published its report covering the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008. A total of 183,903 claims were accepted that year – a 43% increase over 2006/07. The highest number of claims related to equal pay, which accounted for 62,706 claims, probably the result of the many multiple claims being brought against public sector employers. Working time cases came second with 55,712 claims (a rise of 164%) and in third place were 40,941 unfair dismissal claims, down from 44,491 the previous year. The number of age discrimination claims increased from 972 to 2,919, which was anticipated as this was the first full reporting year during which the Age Regulations have been in force. The number of most other types of claim stayed fairly constant.

These statistics only cover the period up to April 2008 and the likelihood is that the effects of the recession will result in an increase in certain types of claim, such as unfair dismissal and redundancy payments.

Retention of working time opt-out likely
At a recent meeting, the EU's Conciliation Committee was unable to resolve the difference between the European Parliament and member states over proposed amendments to the Working Time Directive that would have resulted in the removal of the right to opt-out of the maximum 48-hour week. The UK and other countries have been holding out for retention of the opt-out and, unless agreement can be reached at reconvened talks later this month, the ability to opt-out will remain.

FSA consults on reform of remuneration practices
The FSA has issued a consultation paper "Reforming remuneration practices in financial services". The FSA Code of Practice contains a general requirement that "a firm must establish, implement and maintain remuneration policies, procedures and practices that are consistent with and promote effective risk management". The consultation proposes that this would become an FSA Handbook rule. Firms breaching FSA rules can be subject to disciplinary action. Initially, it is proposed that the requirements of the Code will apply to about 45 of the largest banks, building societies and broker dealers operating in the UK. However the consultation also invites discussion on the idea that the Code should be applied to all other FSA-authorised firms.

The consulting period on implementation of the Code for larger banks and broker dealers closes on 18 May. The period for discussion and feedback on the idea of extending the Code to other firms regulated by the FSA will run until 18 June.

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