16 Aug 2017

A round-up of developments in UK employment law which HR teams need to know about.

The holiday season is upon us, but there is little prospect that the summer period will be any quieter for employment and HR specialists. In fact, the past few weeks have seen arguably two of the most important developments for many years.

First, the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices has published its recommendations. The report is detailed (some 110 pages long) and provides plenty of food for thought. I do not agree with all of its proposals, but overall it is a good starting point for more detailed consideration of how best to ensure our employment law system is fit to meet the demands of the future world of work. With the Government’s eyes fixed firmly on the Brexit negotiations for the next few years, it may be some time before we see many significant legislative changes. In the meantime, innovation and technological change waits for no-one.

The Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw the current Employment Tribunal fees system will have a more immediate impact. I am writing this only a few days after the judgment was handed down and Employment Tribunals are already refusing to accept fees for new claims.

As the dust settles, it raises a lot of questions. Will there be a significant increase in the number of claims (perhaps back to the levels we saw before fees were introduced in 2013)? If so, surely both ACAS and Employment Tribunals will need more resources to deliver effective dispute resolution. Will claimants who could not afford fees try to bring historic claims and will Tribunals allow those claims through? I sincerely hope not.

It would not be a surprise if a new fee system was introduced that addressed the Supreme Court’s misgivings. But again, how and when that might come about is difficult to predict. In the meantime, employers will understandably be concerned about vexatious claims, and Tribunals must work hard to deal with those effectively and robustly.

In the background, the countdown to the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation continues. This has particular relevance for anyone handling employee data, so please have a look at our dedicated web-page on GDPR issues for HR practitioners (available here). My colleagues Rachel Ashwood and Razia Begum are on hand to answer any data protection questions.

These are certainly very busy and very interesting times for us all…

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