Friday, 18 November 2011

Good news on tribunal changes

Shropshire employers have had a double dose of good news from the Government this week. Our employment law specialist, John Mehtam, said legislation changes to reduce the number of employment tribunals and to boost the economy had been warmly welcomed.

"This is a rare occasion when legislation has been changed in favour of the employer, and it's great news for Shropshire companies at what is a very difficult time."

The first change comes into force on April 1 next year, when the qualifying period for unfair dismissal will be extended from one year to two years. "This means employees will need two years' continuous service with your company to claim unfair dismissal, and the Government estimates the change will reduce the number of tribunal claims by 2000 per year."

There will be some exceptions to the two-year rule though - employees will not be required to have been in their job for two continuous years in order to make a claim for:

Health and safety dismissals; pregnancy-related dismissals (only if the employer knew about the pregnancy); dismissals relating to trade union membership or non-membership; dismissals in connection with the national minimum wage; dismissals connected with refusing to exceed the 48-hour working week; dismissals for whistle blowing; unlawful discrimination (including sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, part-time workers, fixed term).

"As well as extending the qualifying period next year, April 2013 will introduce fees for people lodging a tribunal claim. The hope is that businesses will be encouraged to take on new people without the fear of spurious tribunal claims if things do not work out."

John said currently there was no fee for lodging a claim, and more than 80 per cent of tribunal claims lodged did not proceed to a hearing, with nearly half of those withdrawn by the employee involved.

"But even if they don't get to a hearing, you will still have spent time and money preparing a defence, so charging claimants at an early stage is designed to ensure both parties have a stake in proceedings."

Have yourself a jazzy little Christmas...

Businesses from all over Telford will be taking part in a Christmas celebration with a difference this year.

Telford Business Partnership has organised its annual festive event for Friday, December 2, at 5pm, but there will be no traditional turkey dinner on the night. Instead members will be tucking into a hog roast and enjoying the sounds of a jazz band at The Park House Hotel in Shifnal.

Our senior partner, Graham Davies, is this year's TBP chairman, and he said: "We hold an event every year for our members to get together and for years it has always been a traditional Christmas lunch. So this year we decided to do something different and the response from our members has been extremely positive. They've signed up early to make sure they get their tickets, and many are bringing friends and other colleagues too."

Guests on the night will be entertained by The Millennium Eagle Jazz Band and there will be a collection in aid of the County Air Ambulance and Hope House. The event is not just for members - it's for anyone who'd like to go along and enjoy a Christmas celebration with a difference.

Tickets cost £17 per person and to reserve your place, email or call 01952 567578.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Networking on the world stage

Martin-Kaye Solicitors have been building business connections with professionals from all over the world at an international convention. Stuart Haynes, from our Commercial Team, took part in the latest Integrated Advisory Group (IAG) meeting in San Francisco.

We are one of the founder members of the network which began in 1989, and which has 67 members from across Europe, north and south America, and the Middle East. It's made up of lawyers, accountants and tax advisers from 31 countries, and hosts three meetings a year in a different city each time.

"At Martin-Kaye, we're increasingly finding that we are dealing with cases which have an international element and our strong links with the IAG network are proving to be invaluable," said Stuart. "The IAG meetings give us access to the very best professionals from all over the world, which is extremely useful, and it means we can handle even the most complex international cases from right here in Telford.

"Not only is this convenient for our clients, many of whom have bases overseas, but more importantly, it also reduces their legal costs."

Martin-Kaye's international links are paying off more and more frequently, and the firm has recently used IAG members to complete work in Chile, Poland, South Africa, UAE, Spain, Germany and Italy.

Pic: Stuart Haynes attends the IAG International meeting in San Francisco