June 3, 2020

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The Law Commission has recently published its Employment Law Hearing Structures report, (https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/lawcom-prod-storage-11) which contains 23 recommendations to increase powers for employment tribunals and improve how employment law disputes are decided. The aim of the proposed recommendations is to enhance the protections that employees and workers receive from employment tribunals against discriminatory and unlawful practices.

The recommendations put forward by the Commission are in response to a review regarding the jurisdiction of employment tribunals.The report is long and makes many recommendations; some of the key ones are set out below:

1. expansion of the contractual jurisdiction of the employment tribunal to include limb ‘B’ workers (who can be understood as a ‘dependent contractor’, a ‘worker’ is registered as self-employed but provides a service as part of someone else’s business. They generally must carry out the work personally, rather than being able to send someone in their place)and to raise the contractual damages limit from £25K to £100K;

2. to have a single time limit for employment tribunal claims of six months;

3. for extensions of time, to replace the “reasonably practicable” test with the “just and equitable” test;

One of the contributors to the report added, in respect to point 2, that “Employers have to be given equal consideration in this matter and it needs to be recognised that the working landscape has changed significantly from when tribunals were first established.

The vast majority of UK employers are small to medium enterprises and do not have dedicated HR departments who can address claims that arise. Fading recollections of witnesses’ impact on the ability of respondents to defend cases, particularly if they are not aware of the nature of a claim that is coming”.

Another comment made was that “The claimant will be able to recollect detail for a longer period and in greater depth than those whose involvement is purely professional, especially those who carry out a number of formal processes due to their position in the company”.

One other point raised to the commission was that “In the absence of a requirement for claimants to notify the respondent of the potential nature of a claim in advance of the claim being submitted, a “longer period in which to submit a claim only puts the respondent at greater prejudice” and means that they may not have adequate time to prepare for the case.

As seen in point 2 above the report recommends that there is one-time limit for all cases of 6 months to raise a case at an Employment Tribunal. This is an increase for the majority of cases that are raised at an Employment Tribunal.

It probably has never been more important for small businesses to be able to call on expert HR and employment law advice. The best and safest way to stop any claims being made against your company is to identify and deal with all issues quickly in a proper manner by adhering to all current employment legislation. As a start you must have given your employees Statement of Main Terms of their employment on day one. You must also have `Policies and Procedures easily available to the employees, these are the rules that they must adhere to during their employment.

We will be happy to discuss this further with you. Please call us on 07375 097443 or e-mail us on enquiries@lbjconsultants.co.uk to book your appointment. We offer a free audit of all current employment documentation to ensure that it meets current legislation.

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