Every year seems to bring sweeping changes in the field of HR. Some of these changes fundamentally alter the way employers and their staff interact others merely tweak existing provisions. All of them make life interesting and for the poor SME business owner bewildering and at times downright exasperating!

2014 is no exception. We are at the end of June and so far there have been 3 major changes affecting the HR landscape TUPE, Preclaim conciliation and at the end of June the right to request flexible working.

TUPEOn the face of it the TUPE changes were relatively minor the service provision change was kept, there were some tweaks in terms extending ETO to include geographical changes and getting transferors to provide information 28 days out rather than 14. There are some other more detailed changes but to sum up TUPE is a complex area get it wrong and it can be very expensive –always take expert before getting into a TUPE situation.

Tribunal charges came in last year and have been held to be responsible for the steep decline and claims and making ‘the cost of justice’ prohibitive for claimants. There may be some truth in this as £1200 just to hear a unfair dismissal does on the face of it seem quite high. The procedure for gaining exemption from fees is widely held to be cumbersome and virtually impossible to activate. In April preclaim conciliation came in on trial and it became compulsory on May 6th   which requires all claimants at no cost to at least attempt to conciliate their claim before proceeding to tribunal. At present it is too early to see if this have a further reducing effect on the number of claims if so life will be hard for some employment lawyers. However due to the law of unintended consequences quite often the first a respondent may know a claim is in the offing is when ACAS phone to attempt to conciliate at this point the respondent may well decide it is cheaper to ‘pay off’ the claimant irrespective of merit just to  ‘get rid’. If there is factual evidence to support this then we are getting back to speculative claims the very issue that the introduction of fees was meant to minimise.

The end of this month see the extension of the right to request flexible working extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks service. The employer does not have to automatically grant the request but must consider it seriously a further administrative burden on the poor old SME employer.

The real fun starts next year when in April the introduction of shared parental leave is scheduled. The good news is the take up will probably be quite small the bad news is that nobody has yet worked out exactly how this will be administered between the two employers and their employees.

As for me I am taking a week off from June 25th to think about this and recharge my batteries. I will however still be contactable either on 02036407748 or at mnewman@ukemploymentlawadvice.co.uk

Have a good summer and try not to worry too much

Michael Newman NewmanHR Commonsense HR Solutions