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Law: Proposed changes to Employment Law – return to Polkey

The new Employment Bill, which is still moving through Parliament, will do away with the existing dismissal and grievance procedures.

When it becomes law the previous basic requirement of a ‘fair’ procedure will return.

A particular case (Polkey v AE Dayton Services Ltd 1988) sets down the basic rules in unfair dismissal claims and compensation.

Firstly the case sets down the right of an employee to be consulted before being dismissed irrespective of the fact that such consultation would result in the same outcome of dismissal (there are exceptional circumstances eg gross dismissal situations).

However, as regards compensation this would be reduced if it was established that dismissal would result even though the procedure wasn’t followed to the letter.

It would still be unfair dismissal however, if the proper procedure wasn’t followed.

The new Bill however still has provisions for statutory Codes of Practice and if the employer ‘unreasonably’ fails to follow the Code, the award can be increased by up to 25%.

Equally, in the case of an employee’s similar failure the award can be reduced by 25%.

The new law is expected to come into force in April 2009.

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