A leading employment law specialist is warning that planned changes to the rules surrounding rights on dismissal could lead to a significant increase in other claims such as whistleblowing and discrimination.
John Buchanan, solicitor at Nottingham law firm Rothera Dowson, comments on the Government’s confirmation of plans to radically change core elements of employment legislation. Recently detailed by Business Secretary Vince Cable, the planned changes follow a consultation on resolving workplace disputes and include significant changes to the dismissal system. Under the plans, businesses with 10 employees or less would be able to use a ‘compensated no-fault’ dismissal system, meaning they could sack staff without the risk of a tribunal if they pay compensation.
From April this year, the qualification period for unfair dismissal will also be increased from one to two years; something John believes may not have the required impact of reducing the number of claims:
“This change basically means that staff will have to work for at least two years before they can claim unfair dismissal. However, I believe that those who feel that their dismissal hasn’t been handled correctly will simply look at other options that don’t require a two-year qualifying period. “I would expect to see more claims of discrimination and particularly more claims of whistleblowing, which could prove to be a real headache for employers, particularly as such claims tend to me more legally complex.”
Mr Cable has also confirmed that consultation will be held on the proposed introduction of Employment Tribunal fees, designed to encourage Claimants to seriously consider the validity of their claims. The consultation will propose that employees should pay an initial fee to lodge a claim and then a second fee to progress the claim to a hearing. However, John does not believe that this proposal will go through in its entirety: “It would come as a huge surprise should any form of fee be introduced for issuing claims. If a fee is introduced, I believe that it will only be for issuing the case initially and I doubt any fee will exceed £100.”