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Employment Law Journal: December 2012/January 2013

Ed Bowyer and Helena Davies look ahead to what the new year holds for employers and their advisers

For those trying to keep up to speed with legislative developments in employment law, 2012 has been a trying year, with a plethora of announcements, calls for evidence, consultation papers and bills. It seems there will be no letup in 2013, even though a recent ‘one-in, two-out’ announcement pledges that, from January, every new piece of domestic regulation imposing financial burdens on firms must be offset by reductions in red tape to save double those costs.

Jemima Coleman and David Smail consider the key findings of the government’s response to its ‘Modern Workplaces’ consultation and highlight potential practical difficulties

On 13 November 2012, the government published its long-awaited response to its ‘Modern Workplaces’ consultation, over 12 months after the consultation closed in August last year. The proposal is to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees and introduce a new system of flexible parental leave. The Children and Families Bill has not yet been published but a draft bill is expected in 2013, with the new regime in force in 2014.

Restrictions in employment contracts are failing to keep pace with the rise of social media and ‘bring your own device’, warns Adam Hartley

Confidential information is often one of the most valuable but overlooked business assets. Every business has information that it considers gives it a competitive edge in the marketplace, but the protection of such information is often taken for granted. Confidential information can, of course, be subject to threats from outside the business due to theft, hacking or commercial espionage. However, the biggest threat often comes from inside the business. Employees have access to valuable knowledge about customer contacts, and financial and strategic business intelligence, which will be an attractive asset to any competitor seeking to encroach on the employer’s market.

Dechert LLP

Charles Wynn-Evans reports on some recent decisions on costs awards in the employment tribunal

The employment tribunal has the power to make a variety of orders relating to the costs, whether of their legal representatives or otherwise, incurred by the parties to tribunal proceedings (Schedule 1 to the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2004). The current maximum award open to a tribunal in respect of costs or preparation time (without going through a County Court assessment) is £20,000, having been increased from £10,000 from 6 April 2012.

David Ashmore reviews areas of employment law where an employer faces criminal liability for non-compliance with its legal obligations

It is rare for an employment law specialist to be required to advise an employer that it risks criminal liability as a consequence of its actions. It is rarer still to meet an employment lawyer who has practical experience of criminal liability being imposed for an employment law crime. The risk of criminal fines and penalties being levied is well known in employment-related areas of law such as health and safety and immigration. However, in the field of ‘mainstream’ employment law, the circumstances in which an employer can face criminal liability, and in extreme cases imprisonment, is much less well understood and publicised.

CMS

The European Court of Human Rights has held that the UK must protect employees from dismissal on grounds of political affiliation or beliefs, write Liam Kerr and Abbie McCreath

In Redfearn v the United Kingdom [2012], the European Court of Human Rights held that the UK has breached Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) by failing to protect employees who are dismissed because of their political opinions or affiliations.