How does the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 affect you?
The Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (SBEE 2015) was passed on 26 March. It covers various areas of law, such as insolvency, directors’ disqualification, public sector procurement, access to finance and also, employment. The bill is said to be aimed at helping small business to compete, get finance to create jobs and to grow, innovate and export.
Reforms to Employment Tribunal Procedure
SBEE 2015 also brings in welcome reforms to Employment Tribunal procedure and, in particular, to make it easier to enforce Tribunal awards. It has been an under reported scandal over the years that many Tribunal awards are never paid by errant employers.
Improved protection for NHS employees
Whistle blowing was an area of law that underwent considerable reform under this outgoing government, particularly with the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act and more work has been done in SBEE on whistle blowing, particularly within the NHS, where improved protection for NHS employees will be introduced. The intention is to change the NHS culture so that raising concerns about practice and adverse outcomes will be seen as a positive act to be encouraged in order to help mitigate risk and to improve the quality of service.
New powers on exit payments for public sector employees
Finally, another hot topic (or running sore if you prefer) has been a question of exit payments to senior people in the public sector. SBEE aims to provide powers for the Treasury to make regulations to require individuals to repay exit payments when they return to the public sector, whether as an employee, contractor or as a public sector office holder. This will ensure that individuals who receive large redundancy and/or compensation payments in the public sector will have to repay them if they obtain alternative employment back in the public sector. How this will work in practice remains to be seen but it is an idea in principle which is to be welcomed.
No doubt once the election is over we will see more discussion about this Act and how it will actually be implemented in practice.