The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill has now been laid before parliament.
Totally unconnected to the Beecroft report proposals, this new Bill provides for:-
- a mandatory period of Acas conciliation before instituting tribunal proceedings (with heavy reliance on as yet unpublished detail by way of Regulations)
- extension of limitation periods to allow for pre-issue Acas conciliation
- introduction of ‘legal officers’ to make decisions in certain cases if all parties agree in writing
- EAT cases to be heard by a judge alone, unless ordered otherwise
- power for Secretary of State to limit unfair dismissal compensatory award to a maximum between the national median earnings and 3 x median earnings. [NOTE; DBIS is working from a median average earnings figure of £26,000. That means (if the power is exercised) that the compensatory award will be capped at somewhere between £26,000 (one year's earnings) and £78,000 (three years' earnings]
- alternatively, power for the Secretary of State to limit unfair dismissal compensatory award to one year’s earnings
- power for a tribunal to impose a penalty on employers of 50% of any financial award, subject to a minimum of £100 and maximum of £5,000, where there are “aggravating features” (not defined), with a 50% discount for payment within 21 days
- definition of ‘qualifying disclosure’ in whistleblowing legislation to be restricted to disclosures “in the public interest” (not defined)
- ‘compromise agreements’ to be renamed ‘settlement agreements’
Comment: We will keep you infomed should any of the Bill’s provisions eventually become law.