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Businesses must understand major employment law changes

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Sweeping changes to employment law, introduced on 6th April, have changed the way workplace grievance and disciplinary disputes are handled and it is vital that employers understand the implications of the new Code of Practice or face the potential of more costly Tribunal awards. These are the views of local solicitor Peter Littlefield of Gepp & Sons in Chelmsford. "The changes mean the previous three-step statutory grievance and disciplinary procedures, have been replaced by a new Code of Practice from ACAS, (the independent Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) bringing with it an emphasis on finding an early resolution to workplace disputes," he says. "While, it is no longer set in stone that any failure to follow its requirements will result in an 'automatic' finding of unfair dismissal, Tribunals do have the discretion to increase or decrease an award by up to 25% if they find that either party has 'unreasonably' failed to follow the Code. This means that unless you are familiar with it and its principles, you might end up facing even more expensive claims." Full details of the new Code are on the ACAS website, at "However in some instances, such as if the disciplinary or grievance case was started before 6 April 2009, the three-stage statutory procedure will still apply. So it is crucial that businesses understand which process they should be following during this transitional phase" Peter Littlefield continued. "If you are in this position, you should not hesitate to contact one of Gepp & Sons' employment specialists on 01245 228141. It is a very important step in ensuring that you do not have to face the additional stress and expense of a serious claim being found against you." - ends - Notes to Editors: • For additional information or comment please contact: Peter Littlefield of Gepp & Sons.