April 2014 saw new laws being introduced concerning Employment Tribunal Procedures. Christopher Brown from AMD Solicitors discusses the changes and what they mean for employers and employees and other workers wishing to resolve a dispute.
In April the Government introduced new Employment Tribunal (“E.T”) Laws changing the way employees go about making claims for unfair dismissal or discrimination compensation arising within the workplace. The changes now mean that any employee wishing to make a claim to an E.T is now required to see if the case can be resolved through ACAS’ conciliation services first.
The Mandatory Role of ACAS – Early Conciliation
From 6 May 2014 the role of ACAS in employment dispute resolution has become more prominent. ACAS, or the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service, is a non-departmental Government body that has been working to improve workplace relations and resolve employment tribunal claims since 1975. Until April 2014, they have been offering optional conciliation services to resolve employment problems. From 6th May 2014, for many of the possible claims to an ET, apart from some exceptions, it has been compulsory for claimants to firstly refer the claim to ACAS. Those include claims for compensation for unfair dismissal and discrimination. ACAS now conduct compulsory “Early Conciliation” in order to try to resolve claims and disputes between parties so as to avoid those disputes reaching the stage of an E.T claim. Cases may then only be taken to E.T if the Early Conciliation has found to be unsuccessful during the usual one month set period for Early Conciliation (although one extension to this period is allowed).
Other Changes to Employment Tribunals Procedures
Along with ACAS’ mandatory Early Conciliation in all cases which are to be raised at an E.T, there have also been further changes to E.T law over the last year.
2013 saw the introduction of fees for employees who make ET claims. That was followed by a 79% fall in the number of employment tribunal applications.
2014’s legislation sees employers facing a possibility of a fine if they lose a case.
Employers found to have seriously breached employees’ workplace rights can now be fined up to £5,000 in addition to any compensation to be paid to the employee. The introduction of these fees and fines have been implemented with the aim to reduce the amount of workplace disputes taken to tribunal with the hopes that they will be successfully resolved within the workplace or with the help of ACAS instead.
Should an employee find that their case remains unresolved and that there is the need to take it to an employment tribunal, then they will need to decide whether they wish to represent themselves, or whether they would like representation from a solicitor.
As employment solicitors in Bristol, we can offer representation and advice on employment problems. To speak to one of our solicitors, please contact a member of AMD by calling 0117 962 1205.