August 13, 2019 3:38 pm Published by

In the good old days employment law used to keep changing.  It was hard for employers and managers to stay up-to-date and the sense of constant change was unnerving.  In recent years though there has been little major change.

Unfair dismissal rights have been with us since way back in 1996, the process of dismissal being judged by an ACAS Code which has not changed since 2015.  By 2006 we had law in place on all the discrimination characteristics, the last one forced on us by Europe being age discrimination.  Then The Equality Act came in, sweeping away all the old revolutionary changes like Race Discrimination and Sex Discrimination, hoovering all the discriminations up into The Equality Act 2010, now quite old itself.   There have been a few changes since, like shared parental leave and the wider application of flexible working, but nothing much that is likely to affect all employers and employees, and nothing revolutionary or wholesale.

In more recent times perhaps the biggest influences on employment law have been practical rather than legal.  The bringing in of fees for claims in 2013 and then their abolition in 2017, had a great down and up effect on levels of risk for employers.  The reduction in the workplace power of the Trades Unions has helped larger employers, but TU’s have had a considerable impact on the law by championing legal cases on things like the claim fees fiasco, holiday pay and part-time rights.  The very high levels of employment and the difficulties of recruitment have affected the employment relationship balance of power, because in many areas now the employer needs the employee more than the other way around.

What for the future?  An emphasis on equality in all forms, particularly equal pay and the rights of the gig economy and temporary workers.  Then who knows what changes will come when the Government is no longer distracted by Brexit and can do its own thing when (as we expect) we are outside the constraints of Europe.  Watch this space and keep your eye on the priorities of Boris and his friends; and if that all ends with a Labour Government, fasten your seat belt for a return to the good old days of a fast employment law roller coaster ride!

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This post was written by Frances Barker