Following yesterday's media furore in relation to the introduction of tribunal fees, Unison's unsuccessful last-minute attempt to obtain an interim injunction to prevent the fees being introduced and, in some cases, the misreporting of other significant changes, we thought it would be useful to recap in summary the key changes which have taken effect and on which we have reported previously in this blog:
1. Introduction of Tribunal fees - The new fee regime involves payment of an issue fee when the claim is submitted and a hearing fee which would be paid prior to the full merits hearing. For a reminder of the fee structure and the level of fees click here.
Meanwhile, the High Court has granted Unison permission to proceed with a judicial review hearing over the introduction of fees for claims in Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunals. The full hearing is listed for October 2013. Unison's application for an interim injunction against the introduction of the fee regime was refused. For information on Unison's arguments against the introduction of fees click here.
2. New unfair dismissal compensatory limit - The new limit on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal is now the lower of one year's gross pay or the current statutory cap of £74,200.
3. New Tribunal Rules of Procedure - The new rules have introduced new ET1 and ET3 forms, combined case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews into new preliminary hearings and introduced an initial paper sift for new claims in the Employment Tribunal.
4. Pre terminations negotiations - Offers to end the employment relationship on agreed terms can be made on a confidential basis by employers and cannot be used as evidence in an unfair dismissal claim to an Employment Tribunal. This protection will not apply where there is improper behaviour in the negotiation process. The ACAS Code of Practice on Settlement Agreements is also operational and provides useful guidance to employers about how to deal with pre-termination discussions and in understanding the limitations of Section 111A of the ERA. Please click here for the ACAS guidance on settlement agreements.
5. Compromise agreements renamed "settlement agreements" - Compromise agreements have been renamed "settlement agreements" in all relevant employment legislation.