The introduction of new Employment Tribunal Laws in April 2014 changes the way businesses deal with employee issues within the workplace. Christopher Brown from AMD Solicitors discusses the changes and what they mean for employers seeking to resolve a dispute.
April 2014 saw the introduction of New Employment Tribunal Laws which have altered the way employees can make claims in respect of unfair dismissal or workplace discrimination before an Employment Tribunal (“E.T.”). The new laws mean that any employer who receives such a claim must first make use of "Early Concillation" services through ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Services) to attempt to resolve the problem before the dispute reaches an E.T. Should the case not be resolved during the usual one month conciliation period (it is possible to extend this by two weeks) only then can the case be taken to an E.T., although there are some exceptions.
Should a case be taken to an E.T, employers could face fines of up to £5000 for more serious breaches of workers’ rights. Such payment would be in addition to any compensation paid to the worker and any tribunal fees which the employer might be required to pay to the employee.
Under the new legislation, employers who lose a case taken to an E.T can be obliged to pay compensation to the employee or worker. There are caps on many amounts of compensation payable, aside from cases of discrimination, where there is no such cap on the sum of money which an individual can be awarded, although there are rules about calculation of such payments). In addition to these costs, an employer can also be ordered to pay back any Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support that an individual has claimed whilst taking his/her case to tribunal.
Payment of Compensation
Should an employer be required to pay compensation, it must now usually be paid within 14 days of the E.T judgment in order to avoid paying interest. Interest is added from the day after the E.T decision but is only payable if the sum has not been paid in full within 14 days of the judgment. Should an employer fail to pay the employee the compensation which has been ordered, then the employee may take enforcement proceedings to recover the money in the Civil Courts.
It is best for businesses to seek legal advice as soon as they are aware of the possibility of a claim being made against them, so that they can avoid expensive tribunal fees, compensation payments, and a damaged reputation.
ACAS has estimated that while a conciliation service similar to Early Conciliation costs an employer on average £475 involving one day of the employer’s time, an E.T claim which involves a final hearing results an average cost to the employer of £3,700 and 4 days spent on it. Early Conciliation could therefore provide real cost savings to the parties in a dispute.
As Bristol solicitors, we can offer representation and advice for businesses facing employment problems. To speak to one of our solicitors about employment disputes and your business, please contact a member of AMD by calling 0117 962 1205 or 0117 923 5562.