Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Act 2013 - Further Changes

In addition to the changes to the whistleblowing legislation on 25 June 2013 (please see my previous blog of 14 June for further details), there will no longer be a qualifying period of employment required in order for an employee to claim unfair dismissal, where the sole reason or principle reason for dismissal is or relates to the employee’s political opinion or affiliation.                                       

This does not create a new “automatically unfair” ground nor will even a new ground for discrimination – the fairness of the dismissal still have to be judged against whether it was in the range of reasonable responses open to a reasonable employer. 

The 25 June changes will also lay the grounding for the introduction of the new limits for the compensatory award in unfair dismissal cases. The new limit is intended to be the lower of the current cap (£74,200) or one year’s gross pay. However, this change will not actually be effected until further regulations, which have yet to be published, come into force. This is expected to be some time in July.

When a claim is presented on or after 25 October 2013, employers may be ordered to pay a “financial penalty” to the Secretary of State if the tribunal concludes that the employer has breached any worker’s rights and it is considered that the breach has aggravating factors. There is currently a lack of clarity on what will amount to aggravating factors, which has not been defined in the legislation. The fine the tribunal can impose is between £100 and £5,000 (per claimant if the claim consists of multiple claims). The penalty will be halved if paid within 21 days of the decision being sent to the employer.