Wednesday 23 May 2012

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill has, this afternoon, been laid before parliament.

Quite separate from the Adrian Beecroft proposals which have been in the news this week, 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  • a mandatory period of Acas conciliation before instituting tribunal proceedings (with heavy reliance on as yet unpublished detail by way of Regulations)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. [According to BIS, median earnings last year were £26,000, which gives a power to impose a cap of between £26,000 and £78,000]
  • 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
  • defintion of 'qualifying disclosure' in whistleblowing legislation to be restricted to disclosures "in the public interest" (not defined)
  • 'compromise agreements' to be renamed 'settlement agreements'
The Bill is here (see sections 7-17, and Schedule 2)

Daniel Barnett

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