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March 2014 Employment Law Newsletter

07-03-2014

If you would like to discuss any employment issues please contact Julie Taylor on 01635 508181

EMPLOYMENT UPDATE: Mandatory Conciliation

The legislation implementing compulsory pre-claim conciliation through ACAS, the government conciliation service, comes into force on 6 April 2014. This means that for claims to be presented on or after 6 May 2014, the claimant will have to submit details of their dispute to ACAS before they are able to present their claim to the employment tribunal.

A period of pre-claim conciliation through ACAS will then be offered for one month. If either the Claimant or the business refuses to participate in this process or if the conciliation period does not lead to an agreed settlement, the Claimant will be able to go ahead and present their claims to the employment tribunal on paying the appropriate fee.

ACAS has some useful information on their website if you want to know more

EQUALITY ACT: repeal of discrimination questionnaires

With effect from 6 April 2014 the provisions in the Equality Act that set out a procedure for a questionnaire to be served on a company where a claim of discrimination is being considered will be repealed and replaced with an informal approach. ACAS have issued some useful guidance which you can see here

IMPACT OF TRIBUNAL FEES: Latest statistics available

The Ministry of Justice has published the statistics for the number of cases filed with the employment tribunals for the period October – December 2013. These now show that the introduction of tribunal fees has had a significant impact on the number of claims filed with a 79% reduction in the number of claims presented compared to the same quarter last year! For example, on average around 50,000 claims are presented to the employment tribunals each quarter, whereas only 9,801 were received October – December 2013.

NON-COMPETE INJUCTION GRANTED

The High Court has granted an injunction to enforce a 12 month non-compete clause, even though there was a mistake in the drafting of the clause, which if read literally did not offer any protection at all.

The case concerned a sales manager for a software development company who, under the terms of the contract, was prevented from joining a competing business if he was to be involved with products that he was involved with during his employment with the company. As the software development company seeking to enforce the restriction was the only company that sold the products the clause was useless until the court was prepared to treat this as a drafting error. This was done on the basis of what a reasonable person would have understood the parties to have meant by their use of language.

The court also went on to find that the restriction was reasonable and did no more than reasonably necessary to protect a legitimate interest. This decision is slightly surprising, but a useful reminder of the extent of the court’s power in this type of case. It also highlighted that restrictive covenants will only be upheld where they do no more than protect a legitimate business interest of the company.

EMPLOYMENT UPDATE: Increases to compensation limits

Don’t forget that the new limits for employment tribunal awards are effective from 6 April 2014 – see the details here

Please note that these comments are intended to summarise some of the employment issues of the moment, not to provide detailed legal advice, so if you need assistance with any employment issues you may have please contact Julie Taylor on: 01635 508181 or  [email protected]

Follow Julie on Twitter: @JulieT_GL


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