The government is expected to announce further changes to Employment law that will affect both employers and employees. These include further attempts to reduce the number of employment tribunal claims by encouraging conciliation at an early stage, extending the right to request flexible working and providing support to manage sickness absence in the workplace.
So what are the key changes?
January – Changes to TUPE
Changes to the TUPE Regulations 2006 (TUPE) are due to be introduced at the end of January.
TUPE protects employees when, for example, a business is sold or if there is a service provision change. The proposed changes include:
- allowing the transferee (the new employer) to begin consultation with employees prior to the transfer (subject to obtaining consent from the transferor (the existing employer)) if it proposes to make any redundancies after the transfer;
- narrowing the scope of TUPE in connection with service provision changes so that TUPE will only apply if the transferring activities are ‘fundamentally the same’;
- increasing the period regarding the disclosure of employee liability information from 14 days to 28 days; and
- allowing a change to an employee’s place of work to amount to an ‘economic, technical or organisational reason’ so that dismissal due to a change in location will not necessarily entitle an employee to claim automatic unfair dismissal.
April – Early Conciliation to ACAS
From April 2014 a disgruntled employee must first contact ACAS for the purposes of conciliation before commencing a claim at the Employment Tribunal. The role of the ACAS conciliator will be to offer conciliation between the employee and the employer to see if a resolution can be found.
The conciliation will last for up to one month with the ability to extend by a further two weeks. If the parties have not resolved the issue within that period then the employee may commence a claim at the Employment Tribunal.
If a settlement can be reached ACAS will be able to assist with formalising a binding agreement between the parties. It is hoped that this will reduce the costs for the employer and the taxpayer.
April 2014 – Flexible Working
The government proposes to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees with 26 weeks’ service and not just those who are a parent or carer. It also proposes to remove the statutory procedure and instead impose a duty on all employers to consider all requests in a reasonable manner.
Spring 2014 – A new Health and Work Advisory and Assessment Service
In an attempt to assist employers with managing sickness absence the government intends to introduce a Health and Work Advisory and Assessment Service which will provide a state funded occupational health assessment for employees who are off sick for more than 4 weeks. The exact details of when this will be introduced have not yet been announced.