Alastair Currie rounds-up this month's news items of interest to all those working with employment law, including: the latest information on employment tribunal usage; new sources of help and guidance for employers on topics as diverse as TUPE, the World Cup and immigration; equal pay audits and details of a new bill which will impact on employers who offer accommodation to employees. 

Employment facts and figures

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has published its 2013 Survey of employment tribunal applications (SETA 2013). This is the sixth SETA, the last one being published in 2008. The results of the 2013 survey are based on interviews with 1,988 claimant and 2,011 respondent employment tribunal users. Some points of note include the following.

  • Larger employers were more likely to be involved in a greater number of claims: 78% of small employers (with less than 25 employees) had not been involved in a previous tribunal claim, compared with only 7% of organisations with more than 250 employees.
  • Although the claimants surveyed had presented their claims before the introduction of tribunal fees, 49% said that if they had been required to pay a fee of £250, this would have influenced their decision to bring a claim.
  • An offer of settlement was made in 68% of cases, with the employer being more likely to make the first offer, their primary motivations for doing so being financial (51%) and saving time (26%).
  • 72% of claimants and 64% of employers were satisfied with the service received from the employment tribunal. However, only 66% of claimants and 73% of respondents whose case went to a hearing believed that both parties were given a fair chance to make their case at that hearing.

In another set of figures published this month, the Ministry of Justice statistics for tribunals for the period January to March 2014 have been published and show that the downward trend in employment tribunal claims continues. Ignoring the impact of multiple claims (those involving more than one claimant, which can skew the statistics), the number of claims brought by single individuals has dropped by 59% compared to the same period in 2013.

This will, no doubt, add weight to the Unison backed judicial review of employment tribunal fees, which was initially rejected mainly because of a lack of evidence of the impact of the introduction of fees (please see our Alert for more information). The Court of Appeal is due to hear Unison's appeal against the rejection of its judicial review between 10 September and 10 December 2014. Separately, the government has stated (in a written answer in Hansard) that it intends to undertake a review into the impact of employment tribunal fees.

New TUPE guidance

Acas has published basic guidance for employers about handling TUPE transfers. This is an overview only and recommends employers seek legal advice and review more technical information such as BIS guidance and the new Information Commissioner’s Office guide, Disclosure of Employee Information under TUPE. The new ICO guidance provides a helpful 'plain English' guide to employee information and TUPE transfers, including 'Q&As' and good practice tips. To learn more about the assistance our Transaction Support Group can offer on TUPE transfers, please click here.

 

Residential accommodation changes

A new employment bill, 'The Employment Practices Bill 2014-15' has had its first reading in the House of Lords this month. The bill provides that if an employer offers an employee residential accommodation as part of their employment package, it must offer a financial payment as an alternative. The payment would reflect the cost of bed and breakfast accommodation in the area where the employee works. This is likely to affect employers in many sectors who provide employee accommodation, but note that the new requirement will not apply if the accommodation is deemed to be a necessary requirement of the employment.

The World Cup

As regular as the competition itself, guidance has been published on dealing with various employment-law related questions which may arise as a result of the World Cup.  Acas sets out its World Cup Advice and Guidance here, which includes suggestions such dealing with leave requests fairly and ensuring that social media policies are in place and understood.

Equal pay audits

The draft Equality Act 2010 (Equal Pay Audits) Regulations 2014 were published on 19 June 2014. When brought into force, tribunals will be required to order employers who have been found to be in breach of equal pay law to carry out equal pay audits. The government intends the regulations to take effect on 1 October 2014. They will only apply in respect of equal pay claims presented on or after that date. Micro-businesses, new businesses and certain employers who carried out equal pay audits in the three years preceding the breach identified will be exempt. An audit under the draft regulations would involve the publication of relevant gender pay information; identify any differences in pay between men and women and the reasons for those differences; include the reasons for any potential equal pay breach identified by the audit; and set out the employer's plan to avoid breaches occurring or continuing.

New immigration system – help for employers

The Home Office has published a collection of documents to assist employers with recent changes to the UK immigration system – the documents can be accessed here. The literature available in this collection includes guides, checklists, Q&As and a 'quick answer tool' to check if someone is able to work in the UK.

Bevan Brittan's Workforce Forum

Our last Workforce Forum, which took place on 10 June 2014, was a great success and we enjoyed an interesting discussion on the topic of 'protecting patients and staff' in the light of changes following on from the Francis report'. The next Workforce Forum will take place on 7 October 2014 at our London office – details of the topic will be confirmed nearer the time. 

Our Workforce Forum is an interactive employment discussion forum for Directors of Human Resources and Organisational Development, focusing on strategic workforce issues and are by invitation only.  If you would like more information please contact Jodie Sinclair.