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November 2008


The Employment Act 2008 receives Royal Assent

The Employment Act 2008 has now received Royal Assent and will bring about many changes in the coming months to the way that disputes are handled by employers and Employment Tribunals. There are also greater powers for Government officers investigating National Minimum Wage offences and breaches of Employment Agency laws.

The most substantial change brought about by the Act is the repeal of the statutory Dispute Resolution Procedures, which have proven so unpopular since their introduction in 2004. This change will come into force from next April and will have the following implications.

  • It will no longer be 'Automatically Unfair Dismissal' to dismiss someone without following the statutory procedures.
  • Employees will be able to bring a claim to a Tribunal without necessarily bringing a Grievance first with the employer.
  • Tribunal powers to award up to 50% compensation against a party not following standard procedures correctly are abolished
  • Employment Tribunals will have powers to increase or reduce awards by up to 25% where either party has 'unreasonably' failed to follow the relevant code of conduct; for unfair dismissal cases this will be the new ACAS code, which you can view by clicking here.

There will be several changes specifically affecting Employment Tribunals.

  • Employment Judges will be able process cases without holding a hearing when both parties agree or if there is no contest.
  • There will be powers to increase awards in cases of redundancy or unlawful deduction of wages in order to compensate for disruptions such as bank charges or lost interest.
  • The duty of ACAS to conciliate is extended up until a judgment has been delivered.

The Act will also make changes in other areas of Employment Law.

  • Enforcement Officers will be able to force employers to pay up to 50% of the total amount underpaid under the National Minimum Wage Regulations. This is a penalty charge with a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000. The penalty is paid to the Secretary of State and is additional to the arrears awarded to the employee.
  • There are also increased powers for Enforcement Officers dealing with Employment Agencies.
  • Following the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in ASLEF v UK, a clause has been included in the Act that will allow a trade union to exclude members when their political affiliations conflict with the aims and principles of the union.

To download a copy of the Employment Act 2008 please click here and for the Explanatory Note please click here.

UK Training's seminar Employment Law - A Survival Guide for Employers is constantly updated to include all the latest facts and information that anyone responsible for managing or employing people in the UK simply must know. Delegates attending the seminar will receive more than £200 worth of extra benefits free of charge. Please click here to see which venues and dates still have places available.


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