The pace of change never gets any slower in employment law, and I have quite a few consultations and proposals to report. It remains to be seen how many of them will become law, and in what form, but after a couple of well publicised retreats over the budget, and the leaking of the Beecroft Report in advance of its release in slightly different terms, perhaps a considered and thoughtful approach will be taken to them.
I should first confirm what is not happening. The key proposal in the Beecroft report for "compensated no-fault dismissals" has been omitted from the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which is currently making its way through the Commons. Instead, a clause proposing "new" voluntary settlement agreements (compromise agreements under another name and about which more below) has taken its place and most people are regarding that as the quiet death of Mr Beecroft’s proposal.
It is known that of 135 businesses consulted only 38% were in favour of the proposals which most considered to be unnecessary. Many have commented in the press that they have far more important things to worry about at the moment.
The strength of feeling about Beecroft’s contribution was demonstrated particularly well by an article in The Times (behind paywall) which described the report as "short on evidence and long on recommendations – and the prejudices of its author are never far from view" and this was why it was “leaked, published and strangled at birth in a matter of hours".
So what is to be expected?