(NW) The Employment Act: A Critical Overview

12th May 2009 – 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

The Employment Act 2008: A Critical Overview
A North West Conference
Tuesday 12th May 2009
9.45 – 4.00pm
at the Adelphi Hotel, Lime Street, Liverpool
organised by
The Institute of Employment Rights
sponsored by
Thompsons Solicitors
UNITE the Union (NW Region)

About the conference

The new Employment Act gained Royal Assent early in November 2008 and marks the largest piece of employment legislation in over 5 years.

While the new Employment Act offered a golden opportunity to raise standards of both individual and collective rights at work, labour movement expectations were dashed when several amendments calling for mild favourable changes to the Bill were derailed by the government.

So, will the provisions of the Act take us nearer to fulfilling the 1997 promise of delivering fairness at work? Will the current framework of employment rights help unions meet the challenges facing workers in the hostile economic environment of 2009?

This conference will focus on three main areas of the Act: trade union autonomy, dispute resolution and enforcement of employment rights.

1. Trade union autonomy (Section 19):

In 2007, in the case of Aslef v UK, the European Court of Human Rights found that UK laws preventing unions from expelling members of the BNP were in breach of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and needed amendment. The Employment Act made changes to the law – but do those changes clarify or confuse the situation?

2. Dispute resolution & tribunal procedures (Sections 1 to 7):

the Act terminates the 3 step grievance and disciplinary procedures introduced in 2004. How does the erosion of the 3 step process impact on workers’ rights to pursue claims to tribunal? What effects might there be on compensation entitlements? What process will replace the 3 steps?

  • 3. Enforcement of employment rights (Sections 8 to 18):*

Within these sections there are 3 areas of concern: agency workers, the national minimum wage, and redundancy payments. All these areas are likely to feel the pressure of economic recession especially where employers are looking to cut costs.

Come to our one-day conference and hear academics, lawyers and trade unionists explain and critique the new Employment Act.


  • 9:45 Registration and coffee
    1. 10.00 Introduction from Chair – Carolyn Jones, Director
    2. 10:10 Overview and Critical Appraisal: What’s not in the Employment Act

Prof Keith Ewing, King’s College London

  1. 10:40 Case Study of Trade Union Autonomy: ASLEF and its role

John Usher, United Campaign

  1. 11:00 Questions and Discussion
  2. 11:15 BREAK
  3. 11:30 Dispute Resolution & Tribunal Procedures: Overview of New Procedures Georgina Hirsch, Unite the Union
  4. 11.50 Implications for Grievances Procedures and Compensation

Steve Cottingham, O H Parsons

  1. 12.10 Questions and discussion
  2. 12.30 LUNCH Not provided
  3. 1.30 Employment Tribunals and the New Act:
    Brian Doyle, Regional Employment Judge, North West Region
  4. 1.50 Workshops to examine issues in more depth
    1- Trade Union Autonomy – John Usher, United Campaign
    2- Dispute Resolution – Iain Birrell, Thompsons Solicitors
  5. 2.50 Collect tea and return to Conference Room
  6. 3.00 Enforcing Employment Rights: An Overview

Paul Sellers, Policy Officer, TUC

  1. 3.20 Feedback from workshops and discussion
  2. 4.00 Close

Who should attend

The conference will be of great interest to trade unionists, employment lawyers, academics and students.

How to book

To reserve your place, complete the form below and send your cheque, made payable to IER, to Institute of Employment Rights, The People’s Centre, 50-54 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L3 5SD. Fax 0151 702 6935.

CPD, NPP and EPP accreditation

This conference counts for credit hours under the Law Society’s Continuing Development Scheme and the General Council of the Bar’s New Practitioners’ Programme and Established Practitioners’ Programme.

Additional Information

Details of nearby hotels are available from the office. Name changes are accepted up
until the time of the event. Delegates who advise IER of their cancellation more than
15 working days in advance will receive a credit note with 10% deduction for administration.

How to get there

Train: Lime St Station (British Rail) and Central Station (Merseyrail) are a five minute walk away. Bus: 500 from Liverpool John Lennon Airport to City Centre


IER subscribers and members £75.00
Trade unions £90.00
Commercial £220.00
The cost of the conference does not include lunch.

Booking form

Please reserve _ places at The Employment Act 2008: A Critical Overview conference at £_
Please invoice me/I enclose a cheque for £
Return completed form to IER, The People’s Centre, 50-54 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L3 5SD. Fax 0151 702 6935.
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