Employment Law Issues Won’t go Away


Employment Law has come a long way in the 100 years the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (“CIPD”) has been in existence. However, in Jersey, the majority of the most memorable changes have been in the last 10 years with the introduction of the Employment Law (Jersey) 2003 (“Law”). Since its introduction it has been amended on numerous occasions, and becoming the Policy Advisor for our local CIPD Branch you get a glimpse of how volunteers on the committee are trying to raise the standards of HR professionals in the Island by working hard to give back to the community.

The Policy Committee’s ultimate aim is to provide leadership on all HR issues within the Island by influencing government policy and becoming a key point of contact on all employment and development issues.

We have been very active within the HR community representing our members’ views and we hope that by sharing the work of the Policy Committee we can show members that their time and effort in responding to consultation papers and local surveys is being shared with government; hopefully making a positive impact.

During the last twelve months, in the lead up to our 100 years, we have been actively participating in many consultation papers. The youth rate was one that was very interesting to collate views on, and those views varied from industry to industry. The CIPD is keen to see if any further consultation will happen in relation to the youth rate, following the States of Jersey passing the proposition to explore a Jersey Living Wage championed by Deputy Geoff Southern.

In September and October of 2012, we set about trying to achieve one of our biggest initiatives for the year: local feedback and views from our members on the employment law and the proposed discrimination law. We asked the question “Does the Jersey Employment Law need a review prior to any further legislation being introduced?” Hours of work went on in the background to ensure that we reached as wide an audience as possible. We joined forces with the Institute of Directors, Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and Chartered Management Institute to survey members on their views. This stimulated a lot of debate with some major wins being achieved.

The survey had over 200 respondents and 82% stated that the Law does need to be reviewed prior to any further legislation being introduced. According to the respondents, 3 main areas were identified as needing review as a matter of urgency. Firstly, unfair dismissal rights (67.3%); secondly, redundancy (49.1%); and, finally, the Tribunal (43.6%).

A few of the comments that we received are as follows:
• “We need to encourage new start-ups and the 6 month trigger [for unfair dismissal] does not encourage headcount growth”;
• “The redundancy terms are one-sided and forcing companies into bankruptcy”;
• “The Tribunal does not seem to be regulated in any way; they seem to have their own remit with no one auditing their performance”.

We invited the council of ministers to attend a presentation on the feedback of the survey. Both Senator Le Gresley and Senator Maclean attended to hear a summary of the results and saw first hand the feedback from the business community.

Since undertaking this important survey some progress may have been achieved:
• A consultation occurred on the qualifying period for unfiar dismissal rights;
• A review of the Employment Tribunal judgements for 2012 was undertaken; and,
• Further consultation upon disciplinary, grievance, uninterrupted rest periods and therapeutic work was also undertaken.

When the consultation paper was released for the qualifying period, we surveyed our own members and nearly half of our membership responded stating that the qualifying period should be increased to 1 year (i.e. the same limit as in in Guernsey, even though the UK has just increased to two years).

The release of the ‘Newman’ report, which reviewed only the Tribunal Judgements of 2012, was a good start. Hopefully, a further review will be undertaken to include the users of the Tribunal process and/or the process itself, as.the feedback was at odds with the results of the survey.

The final consultation followed a direct result of a proposition that was lodged by Deputy Hill back in 2011, in which he proposed that any employee could bring a person with them to a disciplairny or grievance hearing. CIPD entered into discussions with Ministers in relation to the proposition, and as result the Employment Forum were asked to consult on the Codes of Practices and suggest amendments. We are still waiting to see the results of this consultation paper.

Finally, the draft discrimination legislation has now been passed in Jersey and is due to come into force at the end of 2014. CIPD, alongwith the wider business community, discussed the potential unintended consequences of this new law with the Social Security Minister. Following that discussion, the Minister amended the cap of the award a tribunal can make to £10,000. CIPD also met with Scrutiny, and they recommended a pan-island Appeal tribunal. So, over the next twelve months we will be working with our counterparts in Guernsey to push this recommendation forward, alongwith a cost regime so that we can try to alleviate the fears of our members.

Heidi Gibaut
CIPD Policy Advisor

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