PeopleTalk – June 2013

Welcome to June’s edition of PeopleTalk. This month has already seen us exhibiting at the Great British Business Show at London’s ExCel on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th June. With an estimated 47,000 visitors through the door it was a really exciting two days for us. Donna ran a seminar entitled “HR for SMEs” and despite the noise from surrounding seminar rooms and the exhibition itself, we had some great interaction with the delegates.

This month, we also look at the changes to the employment tribunal system and the introduction of Employee Shareholders. As always, if you need any help with your HR / people management, we are here to support you, by phone, email or in person.

Changes to the Employment Tribunal

Upsetting employees to the extent that they take a claim against you in an Employment Tribunal is not recommended! At DOHR we work really hard to keep all of our clients out of the tribunals, but sometimes you come across an employee who thinks they will take a chance. They find a solicitor willing to tell them what they want to hear and the next thing you the employer knows, you have a claim against you – sometimes fair, but so often completely unfair. However, some changes are being made to introduce fees in the employment tribunals and the employment appeals tribunal (EAT). It is hoped that these fees will put off the speculative litigant / chancer, freeing up the tribunals to deal with genuine cases. These fees are being set at £250 to raise an issue with the tribunal and £950 if it goes to a hearing. These fees will apply for most types of claim including unfair dismissal, discrimination and whistleblowing. Where the case is simpler i.e. a clear breach in employment legislation such as unlawful deductions from wages or errors in statutory redundancy payments, the fees are being discounted to £160 for raising an issue and £230 for the hearing. There will be some financial support available and the exact nature of this is still being discussed but is likely to be means tested based on disposable capital and monthly income.

Employee Shareholders

We are not at all convinced by this legislation, and nor are any of the business owners or lawyers we have spoken to. The essence is that ‘employees’ will be able to negotiate away many of their statutory rights in exchange for shares in the company. These rights apply to both during employment i.e. flexible working and post employment i.e. the right to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. Should the employee leave the business for any reason, their shares would be paid out.

The Growth and Infrastructure Bill which introduces employee shareholder status received Royal Assent at the end of April with implementation this autumn. The Bill was rejected several times by the House of Lords and in order to get the Bill passed the a number of concessions were agreed. The employee entering to the agreement must get independent legal advice, without this the contract is invalid. As with compromise agreements, the employer needs to pay for this advice. Employers must provide a written statement detailing the number of shares being given and the rights they carry. A minimum of £2000 worth of shares must be provided and they will be exempt from Capital Gains Tax up to £50,000. In addition, a ‘cooling off’ period of seven days will apply.

Recruitment

RecruitmentWe are increasingly asked to support our clients with their recruitment needs. While we are not a recruitment agency and do not hold a database of job seekers, we have a number of tools and processes available to enable us to work as part of your team to find you the right staff. From social media to job boards and telephone interviews to assessment centres, we make the job of filling vacancies, quicker, easier and cheaper. Not having a person in role can cost you more than hiring. Hiring the wrong person can be disastrous for your business as well as your bottom line. If you have a vacancy to fill, please do speak to us about how we can help you.

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