Employment Law Update - Quick Fire! - June 2016

Published: 28/06/2016

Employment tribunal decisions online

HM Courts and Tribunals Service has announced plans for a new online database of employment tribunal decisions, starting from autumn 2016. The database will be publically searchable and will contain all new judgments (it has not yet been decided whether to make older judgments available).

The accessibility of tribunal judgments will lead to a significant potential risk of reputational damage for both claimants and respondents, and will need to be a factor for both parties to carefully consider in deciding whether to proceed to a hearing.

BIS call for evidence: non-compete clauses

The Government has published a new ‘call for evidence’ on the use of non-compete clauses in the UK, seeking views on whether the use of such clauses hampers innovation and entrepreneurship.

The call for evidence seeks views on what is meant by the term ‘non-compete’, whether non-compete clauses are particularly prevalent in specific sectors and examples from both employers and employees of the use of such clauses. The Government’s stated objective is to ensure a competitive, flexible and effective labour market and is seeking to establish whether non-compete clauses have hindered mobility and enterprise.

In our view, such clauses arguably protect the ‘start up economy’ as much as established businesses, and it is difficult to see how restrictions on the use of non-compete provisions will benefit business as a whole.

The call for evidence closes on 19 July 2016, following which the Government will decide what, if any, legislative measures are required. A copy of the call for evidence is available here.

Acas early conciliation

Acas has published a new research paper on the effect of early conciliation on employment tribunal claims. Between April 2015 and March 2016, Acas dealt with 92,000 early conciliation cases (up by almost 1,000 on the previous year).

According to the research, 71% of claims avoided a tribunal hearing after being reported to Acas (the ‘ET avoidance rate’). This figure includes those cases settled at the early conciliation stage (31%) and those settled at the post-claim stage (22%).

Of those who withdrew their claims, 27% reported that this was because they would not win or it would be a waste of time to proceed, 20% reported the fees to be ‘off-putting’ and 17% reportedly found the process too stressful. A copy of the full report is available on the Acas website.

Tribunal fees

The Justice Committee has published its report following an inquiry into the introduction of fees for bringing a claim in the employment tribunal. The Committee found that the timing and the scale of the reduction in the number of cases immediately following the introduction of fees can
leave no doubt that the majority of the decline is attributable to fees, concluding that it has had a significant adverse impact on access to justice for meritorious claims.

For further details of the Committee’s report, see our Stop press article.

The content of this article is for general information only. For further information regarding any of our quick fire topics, please contact a member of Birketts' employment team. Law covered as at June 2016.

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