Big changes to employment law

By Lucy Bloom

Employers and their human-resources advisers face constant difficulties in trying to avoid potential pitfalls posed by current employment and discrimination law. This bulletin addresses, in a practical way, some issues commonly dealt with by human-resources departments and gives realistic guidance on how to reduce the risk of employment-related litigation in these areas.

In an unfair dismissal claim, the most valuable element of compensation is usually the compensatory award, which is primarily based on the employee’s net loss of earnings resulting from their dismissal. On 29 July 2013, the upper limit on this award will become either the statutory maximum (currently £74,200) or 52 weeks’ pay of the employee concerned, whichever is the lower amount. This change will therefore potentially limit the value of an unfair dismissal claim for lower earners.

From 29 July 2013, claimants wil have to pay a fee if they wish to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal. The fee will be either £160 or £250, depending on the type of claim. Fees will also be payable at other stages of the tribunal process, for example there will be a hearing fee of either £230 or £950. This is a significant change as presently no fees are payable and costs are rarely awarded, meaning that this is likely to reduce the number of claims lodged…

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