Local shops have welcomed Government plans to change the rules on employment tribunals.
The plans, announced at the same time as a new Employer’s Charter, include increasing the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims from one to two years, bringing in fees for employees who want to make a tribunal claim and referring all claims to conciliation service ACAS first.
The Employer’s Charter states that as long as employers act fairly and reasonably, they are entitled to:
- Ask an employee to take their annual leave at a time that suits the business
- Contact a woman on maternity leave and ask when she plans to return
- Make an employee redundant if the business takes a downward turn
- Ask an employee to take a pay cut
- Talk to employees about their performance and how they can improve
- Dismiss an employee for poor performance
- Ask an employee about their future career plans, including retirement
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Ministers are right to identify the fear of tribunals as one of the barriers that slows businesses from taking on staff.
“Small businesses, including local shops, are often backed into a corner when it comes to tribunal claims and are required to settle out of court to avoid expensive legal fees.”
But Chris Cook, head of employment at solicitors SA Law, warned the reforms could lead to employees bringing “ill-conceived” claims for discrimination instead, which could cause even bigger problems for employers.