Workplace Issues: taking up the issues with the new government

10/06/2015 09:30
10/06/2015 15:25

Wednesday 10 June 2015

A one-day conference

Diskus Room, Unite the Union, London

This event will be the first IER conference to take place after the general election, providing an excellent opportunity to assess the government’s programme of work. How will worker’s rights fair under a new regime? Which labour law topics will trade unionists need to be aware of in order to best protect their members at work?

An IER response to Richard Baker MSP’s Consultation Paper on Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill By Professor Steve Tombs and Professor David Whyte.

9 March 2015

By Steve Tombs, Professor of Criminology at the Open University and
David Whyte, Professor of Socio-legal Studies at University of Liverpool.

Response to the Law Society consultation: How should employment tribunals operate in the future?

18 February 2015

Nicole Busby, Michael Ford, Morag McDermont and David Renton respond to the Law society consultation on behalf of the Institute of Employment Rights.

Access to Justice 2010-2015

News and Commentary

Employment Tribunal Fees

The Drop in Claims


Access to Justice Developments

Read the IER’s resource on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act (2013)

“The best way to deal with grievances in the workplace would be to have proper collective agreements with proper procedures for resolving disputes as and when they arrive. That must be a better way forward than more and more legislation and more and more litigation….”

…A video featuring Keith Ewing and John Hendy has been released. In it, they explain collective bargaining, the effect of its decline and what its restoration would mean for workers in the future. Watch it here.

How should employment tribunals operate in the future?

Nicole Busby, Michael Ford, Morag McDermont and David Renton have published a response to the law society consultation, written against the background of the requirement since July 2013 to pay a fee in order to bring a claim in the employment tribunal (ET) or employment appeal tribunal (EAT). The IER is extremely concerned that in practice fees often present an insurmountable barrier to access to justice. The authors set out responses to the specific questions raised by the Law Society, and in the final section some additional issues that the IER believes requires consideration in the context of the consultation.

Subscribe to the IER

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Justice Deferred: a critical guide to the Coalition’s employment tribunal reforms

By David Renton and Anna Macey

This publication offers a chilling reminder of the extent to which access to justice is being systematically shut down by the Coalition government. Justice Deferred maps out in a concise, easy to read, accessible style and language, the ideologically driven path being pursued by the Coalition Government. It provides a critical guide to changes in employment tribunal rules and procedures including the introduction of fees, the lifting of caps on costs, the ending of witness expenses, the removal of wing members, the end of statutory discrimination questionnaires and more. The authors also look at other changes including unfair dismissal and redundancy rights, the introduction of “employee-ownership” contracts (the rights-for-shares scheme), the notion of “protected conversations” and changes to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

“These changes, taken collectively, represent the biggest change to employment law since the introduction of the right to claim unfair dismissal more than 40 years ago”.

Access to justice in employment disputes: surveying the terrain

Edited by Nicole Busby, Morag McDermont, Emily Rose and Adam Sales

Published as part of a two-and-a-half year project by researchers at the University of Bristol, this book brings together expert critique and debate from some of the UK’s top specialists in employment tribunals and mediation. The papers in this book examine the difficulties, challenges and possibilities of the UK’s systems for resolving employment disputes: the ‘forensic lottery’ of the unfair dismissal procedures; the role for Acas and others in mediation and conciliation; the very particular crisis for employment rights in times of austerity; and the choices faced by an employment tribunal system at the crossroads. They tell a compelling story about the shortcomings of the present system for employees, the particular difficulties for those workers not represented by trade unions or lawyers, and the dangers of the current and proposed changes to employee rights and employment relations.

Visit The Bristol University Research Website for an excellent range of research and publications on justice in employment disputes and the impact of employment tribunal fees.

Read their latest policy report here: Employment tribunal claims – debunking the myths

Employment tribunal fees price workers out of justice

A letter in the Guardian

Since July 2013, when the government introduced fees for anyone taking their employer to an employment tribunal, there has been a huge drop in claims. This is denying workers access to justice – and in particular women with discrimination claims….

Past IER Events

The Institute of Employment Rights has held a series of one day conferences on the issue. The events developed an extremely useful and informative narrative and discussion of recent initiatives, and ongoing legislative changes to the employment tribunal system, exploring the implications and impacts on workers’ ability to access workplace justice as it was originally envisaged by the Donovan Report. The conference papers are available free of charge here.

Legislation: A Timeline

January 2011 – Department for Business, Innovation and Skills launches “Resolving workplace disputes: A consultation” to reform employment law. The stated aim is to make the UK the “best place to start and grow a business”. In reality this is a euphemism for making it a worse place to be a worker.

April 2011 – “Resolving workplace disputes: a consultation” results in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal being extended from one year to two, and the “intention to undertake a fundamental review of the current procedure rules for employment tribunals”.

October 2011 – The government seeks the advice of Wonga CEO, right-wing lobbyist and Conservative party donor Adrien Beecroft. Unsurprisingly, The Beecroft Report recommends the destruction of the protective function of employment law, particularly the Employment Tribunal system which it brands ‘expensive, time consuming and personally stressful’. The majority of the recommendations have since been implemented.

March 2012 – Department for Business, Innovation and Skills launches consultation on “no-fault dismissal” as recommended by Beecroft – a proposal to allow businesses with under 10 employees to dismiss workers without giving reason.

April 2012 – The maximum amount a Judge can order a party to pay as a deposit for proceeding with a case is increased from £500 to £1,000.

April 2012 – Unfair dismissal cases will be heard by an Employment Judge sitting alone, unless a Judge decides otherwise, rather than by a full tribunal with an employer and employee representative.

21 May 2012 – Beecroft report is published by Vince Cable as government comes under fire for “no-fault dismissal” plans.

June 2012 – The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill 2013 (ERRA), the vehicle for many of Beecroft’s reforms, enters parliament.

19 June 2012 – No-fault dismissal is abandoned after it receives almost no support from small businesses, with both the Chambers of Commerce and the Confederation of British Industry opposing the plans.

April 2013 – The minimum consultation period for negotiations between unions and employers aimed at reducing the number of redundancies by looking for alternative solutions was halved from 90 days to 45 days.

25 April 2013 – Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act (2013) gains royal assent.

July 2013 – The coalition will reduce the maximum unfair dismissal compensatory award by two-thirds, from the present £72,300 to either £26,000 or the workers annual salary – whichever is lower. Although the maximum compensation is very rarely awarded, this will lower compensatory awards across the board.

25 June 2013 – Legislation making it harder for employees to blow the whistle on employer malpractice comes into effect. Whistleblowers must now prove their information is in the ‘public interest’ and that it falls into one of the six categories of public disclosure accepted by the law: information relating to a criminal offence, a breach of legal obligation, a miscarriage of justice, risk to the health and safety of an individual, damage to the environment, or the deliberate concealment of information.

July 2013 – Employment Tribunal fees are introduced. Employees now face fees of up to £1,250 to bring their employer to tribunal.

July 2013 – The worker and employer representatives at an employment tribunal have been dispensed with, meaning the judge now sits alone in the majority of cases.

July 2013 – “Protected Conversations” come into force. An employer will be able to offer to pay an employee to leave. The employee won’t be able to use anything said in the discussion as evidence in any unfair dismissal claim – the ‘protection’ is for the employer, who will not have to go through a formal process, not the employee.

1 September 2013 – “Employee Shareholder” employment status is introduced. An employee can give up their unfair dismissal rights, their right to redundancy pay and flexible working and time off for training or study in exchange for shares in a company.

6 May 2014 – Acas Early Conciliation, becomes a legal requirement, and all claims lodged will first go through Acas. Tribunal claims will not be accepted unless the complaint has been referred to Acas and a conciliation certificate issued (ERRA). No additional funding is given to Acas.

July 2014- Ministry of Justice statistics show 80%+ decline in ET applications

TTIP template email

A template email against TTIP, for sending to MEPs

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