The Government believe the UK economy should be supported by a framework of laws that ensures we have a strong and efficient labour market which is flexible, effective and fair. Today the Government are announcing a series of measures following outcomes from our employment law review process.
Employment Tribunal Reform
Today the Government have launched their response to the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation and announced that we are commissioning a fundamental review of the current rules of procedure for employment tribunals1.
The publication of our response to the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation is a significant milestone in our wider review of employment law. We believe the measures set out in our response today will deliver a more streamlined and efficient employment tribunal system, provide both employers and employees with greater access to methods of early dispute resolution and support growth by giving employers more confidence to take on new workers.
The legislative measures outlined in our package will be taken forward when parliamentary time permits.
On behalf of the Government, I have asked Mr Justice Underhill, the outgoing president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, to lead a fundamental review of the rules of procedure for employment tribunals. A “working group”, chaired by Mr Justice Underhill, will undertake the review itself and report back to Ministers with recommendations. It is our intention that the review will develop and recommend a revised procedural code, with a view to ensuring that robust case-management powers can be applied flexibly and proportionately in individual cases coming before employment tribunals.
The review will commence in November 2011 and will run for six months. The working party will be invited to provide recommendations by the end of April 2012.
We are going to be seeking views on a proposal to introduce compensated no-fault dismissal for micro-firms with fewer than 10 employees. We will also look at ways to slim down existing dismissal processes, which can be, and are often perceived to be, lengthy and unfair to both employers and employees. We will therefore seek views on how we might simplify them, including potentially working with ACAS to make changes to their code, or supplementary guidance for small businesses.
TUPE and Collective Redundancies
The Government are also looking at the current rules on consultation in collective redundancy situations. Today I am launching a call for evidence on the experience of employers and employees in collective redundancies. The call for evidence will seek to identify where changes, if they are thought necessary, could be made that will help improve the ability of businesses to restructure, while ensuring that employees have access to support in finding alternative training or employment opportunities.
Some businesses have raised concerns that the current TUPE arrangements are overly bureaucratic and may in some areas, such as service provision, unnecessarily gold-plate European rules. Therefore, today I am launching a second call for evidence on the effectiveness of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 in protecting employees’ rights and smoothing the process of business restructuring. This is a complex area of legislation and it is important we gather evidence from a wide range of stakeholders in considering the case for change.
Copies of the Resolving Workplace Disputes Government response document, the Fundamental Review Terms of Reference and both calls for evidence have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
1 The existing procedural rules for employment tribunals are contained in schedule 1 of the Employment Tribunal (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2004.