Changes to Employment Law in July 2012

David Reid
18th Jul 2012

Updates and recent changes to Employment law including protected conversations, changes to Employment Tribunal Rules and Procedures and Employer TV Licence Rules for Olympics viewers…

Employment law news

Protected conversations

In our previous news update, we told you about the government’s plans to introduce protected conversations. The government has now tabled an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to provide that, with some exceptions, a discussion held or offer made to an employee with a view to terminating employment before a formal dispute has arisen cannot be taken into account in unfair dismissal proceedings. However, as expected, the amendment does not appear to extend this protection to other claims, eg, discrimination and automatically unfair dismissal.


It remains to be seen whether employers will have the confidence to use this procedure when they wish to terminate someone’s employment in circumstances where no dispute already exists with the relevant employee.


Proposed changes to simplify employment tribunal rules and procedure

The former president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, Mr Justice Underhill, has recently completed a major review of employment tribunal rules in order to simplify these. A formal consultation on his proposals will take place later in the year. However, if agreed, the new rules will make wide-ranging changes, including the sifting of weak cases at an earlier stage, to ensure that employment judges have the ability strike these out more quickly where there is no arguable case or response.


The full statement from Mr Justice Underhill detailing all recommendations can be viewed on the BIS site.


Unchallenged medical evidence allows disability discrimination claim to be struck out

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has recently given guidance as to when an Employment Tribunal may be entitled to strike out a claim for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination on the grounds of no reasonable prospects of success. In this case, an employer was entitled to rely on unchallenged medical evidence which indicated that no adjustments could be made to the ex-employee’s role that would have enabled him to return to work in the foreseeable future. The employer had fulfilled its obligations by consulting with the employee about the medical evidence but, importantly, the employee had not disputed this evidence.


Employers to obtain TV licences for Olympics viewers

The TV Licensing body has recently reminded employers of the need to obtain a TV licence if they wish to allow employees to watch the Olympics whilst at work. The Games will kick off on 27 July and more than 2,500 hours of live Olympic coverage will be shown over 17 days. If employees have devices such as mobile telephones or laptops plugged into the mains at work, the employer will need to have a licence. Catch-up services are not subject to licence requirements whereas live streams of sports events, news channels and press conferences are.

…And finally, we are delighted to announce that two members of our legal team, Gillian Melville and Louise Elster, recently completed their legal Traineeships to become fully qualified Solicitors. Both Gillian and Louise have proven to be excellent additions to our team and we wish them every success in their careers.

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