6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Business & Professional Life today CLICK HERE

Should employers fear employment law?

PUBLISHED: 16:23 04 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:35 20 February 2013

Should employers fear employment law?

Should employers fear employment law?

Darren Sherborne doesn't think so, but be wary of some changes

Should employers fear
employment law?

Darren Sherborne doesnt think so, but be wary of some changes

Employers have been delighted with the recent changes to employment law, and more are proposed. The qualifying period for unfair dismissal has risen from one year to two years as of the 6th April, but only for employees who start after that date. Therefore there will be no real change until April 2013.

Many more changes were heralded this year, although employers could be forgiven for asking whats in it for them and with good reason.

There is a clear message that employees wishing to enter tribunals will have to pay a modest deposit. The figure is not yet clear but it could be up to 1,000. That is up to and not always that figure, and more likely to be between 200 and 500. Its also likely to be means tested. On the basis that most unfair dismissal claims are brought by people who by definition have not got a job and therefore are going to be a bit short, its hard to see that this will have much impact.

What no one seems to have noticed is that there is an intention to bring in financial penalties for employers who fight tribunals and lose. This money will go straight to the government. One could be forgiven for thinking that the aim of these moves is to encourage employers to pay employees off rather than minimise claims in the first place or ease the burden on the economy. I would perhaps be able to dismiss such a cynical conclusion, except that the government will also introduce a compulsory period of conciliation with ACAS before the claim can be heard by a tribunal. Once again a measure that will, without doubt, encourage employers to offer financial settlement to aggrieved staff. Experience would suggest that where an employer routinely settles employment claims, that employer gets more claims than employers who fight them and this applies to Small Co limited as much as it does to UK PLC. Im not suggesting that ACAS involvement in tribunal cases is a bad thing, it isnt, but to focus on encouraging employers to pay employees off rather than addressing what brings employees to tribunal in the first place cannot be the way to go. This is without dwelling on the fact that where you force two parties to talk against their will, the result of that conversation is not going to be noticeably positive. I certainly cannot see this approach catching on in divorce cases!

Few employers are downright bad, in my experience. They are trying to run businesses in a tough climate and have to make difficult decisions for the good of the business, sometimes with employees working against them or thinking they know better without actually having the responsibility. What encourages tribunal claims is usually money. That has to be right. If tribunals awarded bags of carrots we would be making tribunals redundant. The problem at the moment is that tribunals award damages to employees based on how long it will take them to find a new job. While this has a logic to it, when the economy is in recession, and businesses are finding it toughest to make ends meet, the jobs market is also tough and employees take longer to find more work. Therefore, just when commerce is struggling most, unfair dismissal compensation goes up! You have to admit it is not ideal.

Its not all bad news. Quite a small percentage of unfair dismissal claims end in a finding in favour of the employee. Employers seem to win more than they lose. It seems a shame that so many employers get the impression that the employee has the upper hand and that really is not the case at all. Perhaps employers get advice that is too cautious, or get advice too late and end up tip toeing around situations
quite unnecessarily.

In any event, the current changes are unlikely to make a big difference because they dont tackle the real issues, which are employers being advised to be scared and the prospect of (and myth in most cases) of large damages awards.


More from Cotswold Life


“‘Flexitarians’ can do one though, being alleged vegetarians who still can’t resist the sizzling siren song of the bacon sandwich when no-one is looking.” Editor Mike Lowe is attempting to seek reconciliation with those he has annoyed… well, sort of.

Read more
Yesterday, 14:24

Choral carol services and grand instrumental performances, with the backdrop of some of the Cotswolds most picturesque locations, are perfect ways to embrace the festivities. We pick some of the best carol services and concerts to enjoy in the region

Read more
Yesterday, 11:35

“This letting to Oxford nanoSystems is a fantastic example of how we are able to provide first class facilities for growing technology companies at Abingdon Business Park.”

Read more
Yesterday, 11:28

One of the UK’s leading training and education specialists has launched a skills hub in Nuneaton

Read more
Yesterday, 11:19

“The logistics hub is another example of where we have worked in partnership to support skills needs in the area and link our student body with future job opportunities.”

Read more
Yesterday, 11:07

“It was fantastic to see how this project is making a real difference to the lives of young people at risk of social exclusion.”

Read more
Yesterday, 10:57

It has become the 90th store to accept the gift card in Cheltenham

Read more

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Wed, 15:59

From festive light switch-ons and Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas Fayres and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in and around the Cotswolds this season

Read more
Wed, 15:42

Property prices across Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds have risen steadily over the last few years, reflecting the trend across the country. But which area has shown the most dramatic hike in prices recently, and how does your postcode and house type compare with others in the area? You may be surprised to see the results...

Read more
Wed, 11:43

Wine Wednesday’s with Vintopia of Tetbury.

Read more
Wed, 10:37

Festive a la carte menu launches in Grey’s Brasserie from 26th November.

Read more
Wed, 09:31

Cotswold Life readers enjoy a complimentary glass of wine with our compliments when joining us for our Autumn Feast Lunch Offer.

Read more
Tue, 15:01

Harnessing the power of social media, charity awards and dreaming up new projects - it’s all in a day’s work for Gloucestershire children’s charity Pied Piper and its corporate supporters

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search