Your IndustryMay 1 2013

Q&A: Peter Done

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What new HR laws do I need to adhere to for the new financial year?

After a recent reshuffle of implementation dates, there is currently no concrete start dates this year for any other measures previously tabled. But it is strongly expected that the following laws will be introduced during 2013 at some point.

A new type of employment contract will be available for employers to use, probably from September 2013, whereby an employee will forfeit several employment rights, including the right to claim unfair dismissal, in return for shares in the business they work for. The first £2000 of shares (the minimum amount permitted) will be tax free and the first £50,000 will be free from capital gains tax. These employees will be known as “employee shareholders”.

Also expected from September is the introduction of settlement agreements, which will enable employers to more easily raise conversations about making a monetary offer to terminate employment. Discussions held in line with a planned statutory code of practice will be inadmissible as evidence in unfair dismissal claims, even where there is no current dispute with the employee.

Many changes to “whistleblowing” protection are planned for the summer. Disclosures will have to be made “in the public interest” to attract protection, but the requirement for the disclosure to be made “in good faith” will be removed and left for a tribunal to decide. Other whistleblowing reforms are also planned.

A new cap on unfair dismissal compensation is expected to be applied by the summer, meaning employees will only be able to receive, as a maximum, a sum equivalent to their yearly salary, subject to a separate cap in the region of £70,000.

On the topic of tribunals, claimants will be required to pay to bring a claim. The fees are certainly not negligible, with an unfair dismissal claim costing more than £1000. Other claims will cost around £400. An unsuccessful respondent may be required to reimburse the claimant for their fee.

Changes to Tupe legislation, which governs employment protection when a company is bought out or a service contract changes hands, are also expected this year. There are no finalised plans as yet, but a relaxation of the laws is certainly expected.

The postponed move to portable and online Disclosure and Barring Service checks (formerly known as Criminal Records Bureau checks) is expected at some point this year, also probably from September.

Changes to discrimination legislation to remove statutory questionnaires and the employer’s liability for harassment of staff by third parties (for example, suppliers, customers etc) have been pushed back and probably will not be introduced until next year.

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula