We reported last month that the Government was proposing to introduce fees to the Employment Tribunal system. Some further details have since emerged. Under the proposals, it would cost a claimant £250 to lodge a claim and then £1,000 if the case is listed for a hearing. Lower paid workers would however be exempt from such fees. It remains to be seen exactly how a lower paid worker is to be classified. A sliding scale of fees also appears to be under consideration so that lower paid workers who just miss the exempt category pay a reduced fee. It is also now understood that the implementation date would be December 2013 rather than April 2013.
Call to scrap unfair dismissal
In a further and perhaps even more radical proposal, a leaked report prepared by a Conservative venture capitalist, Adrian Beecroft, has apparently called for the right to claim unfair dismissal to be scrapped. This would be replaced by the concept of a “No Fault Compensated Dismissal” which would mean an employer could dismiss any employee, without recourse, by paying a set level of compensation (together with any notice pay due), as happens in some other countries around the world. The Government has already announced that it will be consulting on the proposal to increase the length of qualifying service to bring a claim of unfair dismissal from one to two years. Whether the “Beecroft” proposal is taken forward by Government remains to be seen but must be thought unlikely at this stage.
Guidance on Agency Workers Regulations published by Local Government Employers
New guidance on the Agency Workers Regulations, which came into force on 1 October 2011, has been published by Local Government Employers (LGE), and can be found by clicking here. LGE is a body which works with local authorities, regional employers and others on pay, pensions and employment contracts.
Guidance on public sector equality duty published
The Government Equalities Office has published a Quick Start Guide to the public sector Equality Duty, which can be found by clicking here. The general Equality Duty is supported by specific duties which came into force for public bodies in England, on 10 September 2011. The specific duties require relevant public bodies to:
- publish information each year showing compliance with the Equality Duty; and
- set and publish equality objectives every four years.
The Scottish Government is consulting on revised specific duties for Scotland. That consultation is due to close on 25 November 2011. Specific duties for Welsh public bodies came into force on 6 April 2011.
First conviction under the Bribery Act
A former court clerk is the first individual to be prosecuted under the Bribery Act 2010. The officer admitted taking £500 in return for making a speeding fine “disappear” and pleaded guilty to misconduct and bribery in public office. Sentencing is due to take place shortly. The maximum sentence for this type of offence is ten years’ imprisonment.