Employment law stories in the news this week – 07.04.2014 to 13.04.2014

MoJIn the latest of our series of posts on employment law stories in the news this week, we take a look at ten stories relating to employment law that have made the news between 7 April and 13 April 2014.

  1. Parliament Has Spent Over £100,000 Fighting Employment Tribunals – The House of Commons has spent over £100,000 fighting staff employment tribunals, the Huffington Post UK can reveal. Following a Freedom of Information request, the House of Commons revealed that it had faced 16 employment tribunal claims since May 2010, spending £91,310.93 on legal costs. Five of the cases were settled at a total additional cost of £14,218.96 (The Huffington Post)
  2. Whistleblower’s dismissal after 17 complaints in 18 days was unfair – How long does an employer have to take action following a complaint made by a whistleblower? This was one of the questions the Employment Appeal Tribunal had to answer in the case Chemistree v Gahir (CIPD)
  3. New guidance for the safety of dock workers – The Health and Safety Executive, has worked with Port Skills and Safety and Unite the union to produce a new, simpler Approved Code of Practice and signposting guidance document for the docks industry (HSE)
  4. New ACAS early conciliation scheme – From 6 April 2014, a new system of pre-claim conciliation will be in place for all employment tribunal claims. There will be a transitional (voluntary) period between 6 April 2014 and 5 May 2014 and the system will then be mandatory for all claims presented on or after 6 May 2014 (The Lawyer)
  5. UK Supreme Court grants injunction to stop employer going ahead with disciplinary hearing – As an employer you will already be aware that if you do not follow a fair disciplinary process then you are likely to end up with a finding of unfair dismissal in any subsequent Tribunal proceedings, but have you ever thought that you might be prevented from going ahead with the disciplinary process in the first place? This is what happened in West London Mental Health NHS Trust v Chhabra, when the Supreme Court granted an injunction to prevent an employer from pursuing allegations of gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing (Lexology)
  6. Discrimination questionnaires to be scrapped – There’s been guidance that discrimination questionnaires are to be abolished. But what will this mean for my business and employment contracts? In short, a discrimination questionnaire is effectively a list of questions that an employee (or former employee) can send to its employer (or former employer) (The Leicester Mercury)
  7. Retiree unfairly dismissed by Perth and Kinross Council – A long-serving Perth and Kinross Council employee who thought he was “winding down” to retirement was shocked when his contract was terminated. An employment tribunal in Dundee has upheld the unfair dismissal claim of John Robertson, 62, of Sutherland Crescent, Abernethy, and ordered the council to pay him £22,465 (The Courier)
  8. Fall in employment tribunal numbers is shocking, says Unison – The latest quarterly employment tribunal statistics show a “shocking” fall due to the introduction of fees, according to public service union Unison. The Ministry of Justice figures show that in the October-December quarter of 2013 9,801 claims were accepted – 79 per cent fewer than in the same period of 2012 when there were 45,710 claims accepted and 75 per cent fewer than July-September 2013 quarter when there were 38,963 claims (The Tribune)
  9. Employment tribunal fees to increase for some cases from 6 April 2014 – An amending order will come into force on 6 April that will re-categorise certain types of claim as “Type B” claims instead of “Type A” claims (Lexology)
  10. Denbigh factory workers exposed to high lead levels – Nine workers at a ceramic tile factory in North Wales had levels of lead in their blood above national safety limits putting them at risk of serious health problems, a court has been told (HSE)