In-house teams tackle new employment laws

In-house lawyers and HR teams are gearing up for a raft of new employment legislation coming into force on 1 October, with those
that do not comply facing increased claims from disgruntled staff.

“Employers should be gearing themselves up,” said Raymond Jeffers, head of Linklaters’ employment team and chair of the Employment Lawyers Association. “This legislation is going to hit harder the small and medium-sized firms.”

The main development comes from new dismissal procedures. These will apply if an employee is fired, as well as in cases of retirement or where a fixed-term contract comes to an end.

Employers will have to follow a three-part procedure, providing a statement of what they intend to do, a meeting and then an appeal
if the employee so wishes.

Disciplinary procedures will also be split into three stages: a first warning, a final written warning and then action taken against the employee.

If the procedure is not followed, employers risk losing employment tribunal claims on a technicality – even if they were in the right to dismiss the employee concerned.

The Department of Trade and Industry and Acas have published details of the procedures and guidance on how to comply on their websites, but employment lawyers say that many companies have been turning to them for advice.

Other legislation being introduced in October includes small adjustments to Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeals Tribunal procedures.