New rules aimed at streamlining the Employment Tribunal process have been announced by Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson. These changes will make tribunals easier to understand, more efficient and will help weed out weak claims.
In November 2011 the government commissioned Mr Justice Underhill, former President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal to lead a fundamental review of the rules of procedure for employment tribunals.
In its response, the government sets out plans to streamline the tribunal process and make it easier for parties to navigate.
The proposals the government have accepted include:
- new strike out powers to ensure that weak cases that should not proceed to full hearing are halted at the earliest possible opportunity;
- guidance from the Employment Tribunal Presidents to help ensure that judges deal with hearings in a consistent manner which ensures parties know what to expect;
- making it easier to withdraw and dismiss claims by cutting the amount of paper work required; and
- a new procedure for preliminary hearings that combines separate pre-hearing reviews and case management discussions.This will reduce the overall number of hearings and lead to a quicker disposal of cases saving time and costs for all parties.
Employment Relations Minister, Jo Swinson said: We are committed to finding ways to resolve workplace disputes so they don’t end up with two sides in front of a tribunal.
The proposals set out today will help all parties understand what the process involves and what to expect. Employment Tribunals are costly in terms of time, money and stress for everyone and they should always be the last resort, not the first port of call.
We have always said, and this is backed up by international evidence, that the UK has one of the most flexible labour markets in the world. Our efforts to review of areas of employment law not just tribunals are about making sure business can get on and grow, while employees have the necessary protections in place.
It is expected that the new rules will come into force this summer.
A study from totaljobs.com reveals that nine out of 10 graduates would like to work for an SME. While recent research from the BIS has shown small businesses are missing out on a potential wealth of future talent through a lack of engagement with graduates, the survey uncovers a willing market of untapped graduates able to compete for the 196,000 jobs on offer in today’s SME employment market.
Reasons why graduates would consider a job within an SME include:
- 62 per cent believe that SMEs develop their workforce in a better way
- 65 per cent state that their ideas are more likely to be heard
- 37 per cent state that the company culture would suit them better
Further, nearly a third (29 per cent) of graduates believe they have the right skills for a job in an SME, this is compared to just one in 10 (10 per cent) believing they have the right skills set to begin a graduate entry level role in a large corporation.
Separately, a growing number of graduates are looking to set-up their own business, with over half (51 per cent) stating they had considered it as a possible route after university.
Graduate director at totaljobs.com, Mike Fetters, commented on the findings:
“SMEs are missing a trick by not considering graduates as a potential pipeline of talent. With evidence suggesting that graduate recruitment to SMEs has the potential to increase management and leadership capability within the organisation as well as enhance growth in the sector, it is important that their value is considered by those looking to recruit.
“The graduate market in the UK is big, with a huge variety of skills and knowledge out there – all of which can be tapped into by SMEs if they can effectively utilise the right channels out there.”
From April, employers will be required to move to a new way of reporting PAYE. For the vast majority of employers, the first ‘real time’ return will be the first employee payday on or after 6 April 2013.
Reporting PAYE in real time will be quicker, easier and more accurate for employers.
SMEs’ payroll software will need to calculate PAYE and send the PAYE information to HMRC as part of a routine payroll operation. SMEs should also look carefully at payroll practices as – although the way PAYE is calculated is not changing – some of the practices that you use may not work for real time reporting.
Reporting PAYE does not change how or when people are paid, or when employers pay income tax and national insurance to HMRC. Instead of sending in the P14 and P35 forms at the end of year SMEs (or their agent, bookkeeper or payroll bureau) will:
- send a Full Payment Submission (FPS) each time, or before you pay employees
- send an Employer Payment Summary each month, which shows any adjustments to the amount you owe
- send an Earlier Year Update to correct errors or make adjustments to earlier years.
It’s also worth noting that the FPS is not available through HMRC Online – you will need to use RTI-enabled payroll software to generate your return.
British businesses will be helped to tackle long-term sickness absence in the workplace thanks to a new independent assessment and advisory service aimed at getting people back to work and away from long-term sickness benefits, the Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud has announced.
The scheme will save employers up to £160 million a year in statutory sick pay and increase economic output by up to £900 million a year.
Currently, only 10 per cent of employees of small firms have access to an occupational health service, compared with more than half of staff in larger firms. The new service will enable employers of all sizes to access expert advice to help them manage sickness absence in the workplace.
This new initiative will ensure employers receive bespoke, independent advice for cases of sickness absence lasting more than four weeks. Experts agree this approach will help to stop thousands of people falling out of work and onto long-term sickness benefits.
The Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said:
“Long-term sickness absence is a burden to business, to the taxpayer and to the thousands of people who get trapped on benefits when they could actually work.
“So for the first time, all employers, big or small, will have access to a service that offers the early support they need to keep people in work and fulfil their aspirations.
“It’s further proof that this Government is confronting all the challenges facing Britain and making sure we compete and thrive in the global race.”
The lack of advice or support is one of the main barriers faced by employers tackling sickness absence in the workplace. Under the current system, the vast majority of fit notes declare employees to be unfit for work.
The new service is part of a series of measures announced today by the Government to help employers support their staff and prevent employees needlessly going onto sickness benefits, and it is part of the Government’s response to the recommendations of health and business experts Dame Carol Black and David Frost.
Dame Carol Black said:
“I very much welcome the Government’s decision to press ahead with the new independent assessment and advisory service which David and I recommended in our Review.
“A new independent assessment and advice service will address the sicknote culture and offer people the best possible support to get back to work quickly.
“What David and I found in our Review is that far too many people with potentially manageable conditions – like stress or back pain – are effectively being signed off work for life, sliding from a short spell of sickness absence to a life of long-term benefit dependency.
“The changes being made by the government today will begin to change that. They will ensure that employers and employees get the best possible access to occupational health advice and support. And the new service will also provide much-needed support for GPs too, so they can spend more time helping their patients and less time having to police the benefit system.”
The independent occupational health assessment and advice service is expected to be up and running in 2014.
Minister for Employment, Mark Hoban, challenged businesses as he launched the new ‘Youth Contract: Works for me’ advertising drive on local radio stations. The campaign raises awareness of the £1bn Youth Contract, the Government’s package of support offering nearly half a million opportunities to help 18-24 year-olds into work.
Hoban is particularly urging businesses to take advantage of 160,000 wage incentives offered as part of the package. These give employers up to £2,275 when they take on a young person who has been unemployed for more than six months.
Hoban said: “My message to businesses for 2013 is simple: We’ve got up to £2,275 of cash sitting on the table waiting for you to take it up. So take on a young person, who’s been out of work for six months, and the cash is yours.
“There really is no better time to change a young person’s life and invest in the future of your business at the same time, so snap up the money before someone else beats you to it.
“With the extra work experience placements and apprenticeships we’re also providing we will ensure young jobseekers have the skills they need to make a real contribution in the workplace. They just need to get their foot in the door so they can prove their worth to local businesses.”