Twice a year, the government introduces a range of regulation changes. Known as 'common commencements dates' or 'red tape day', the aim is to make it easier for businesses to comply.
Emma Hamnett, senior associate at law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, highlights five of the most prominent employment law changes introduced by the government on 6 Apri 2014 and what they mean for employers and employees.
1. Introduction of Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) early conciliation
A new system of ACAS early conciliation or 'EC' has come into operation. The system is optional between 6 April 2014 and 5 May 2014 and compulsory for all new employment tribunal claims issued after 6 May 2014.
Under the EC scheme, prospective claimants in "relevant proceedings" are required to lodge a form with ACAS before submitting a claim to the employment tribunal. ACAS will then attempt to contact the claimant to discuss conciliation. If the prospective claimant or respondent cannot be contacted and if conciliation does not in fact take place or if conciliation does take place and is unsuccessful ACAS will issue a certificate confirming that the conciliation process has been followed. The certificate will contain a unique reference number. The prospective claimant will not be able to issue their employment tribunal claim without the EC certificate reference number.
The intention behind the scheme is to encourage settlement discussions and early resolution of disputes. However there is no obligation on either the prospective claimant or respondent actually to engage in discussions with the other side. Therefore whether this new regime has an actual impact on early resolution and the number of claims lodged remains to be seen.
About Dan Martin
Dan Martin has 10 years experience as a journalist writing about entrepreneurs and the issues that affect them.
After three years working as a researcher for Sky News, he joined BusinessEurope.com as a reporter. This was followed by two years working as news editor for Startups.co.uk during which time Dan also contributed to Growing Business magazine. In 2006, he joined Sift Media as business editor before being promoted to editor of BusinessZone.co.uk. He also has responsibility for UK Business Forums, the UK’s most active online forums for small business entrepreneurs. In addition, Dan founded The Pitch, BusinessZone.co.uk's nationwide competition for small business owners. He host the grand finals in 2009 and 2010 in front of an audience of 300.
As well as interviewing many entrepreneurs, Dan has written content for leading business organisations such as the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, British Chambers of Commerce, Forum of Private Business, Investors in People and Business Link for London. Among the publications that have quoted Dan are The Times, Mail On Sunday, Financial Times, Personnel Today and Bristol Evening Post. His articles have also been published by publications including eGov Monitor, Virgin Express in-flight magazine and Personal Success.
Dan regularly speaks at events about small business and social media issues. Among the events he has presented at are the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies' annual conference, Learning Technologies, Publishing Expo and World of Learning. He has also chaired high profile debates featuring senior representatives from Business Link and the Federation of Small Businesses and Dragons' Den judge James Caan.
Dan was named the 10th most influential political blogger on Twitter by the Independent and won the public award for best B2B tweeter at the Golden Twits 2010. He also organised the Bristol Twestival, part of a global Twitter driven charity initiative, in February 2009 and March 2010. Volunteers from 175 cities around the world organised events using the social network. In total, $350,000 was raised for charity: water in 2009 and $500,000 for Concern in 2010. In Bristol, £1,500 and £5,600 was raised.