A leading Midlands law firm has warned companies across the region of important new changes to employment law which come into effect from July 29.

Higgs & Sons say the changes will have a significant impact on claims being made at employment tribunals for example for unfair dismissal.

It has now produced a special briefing to update clients on the changes and what they might mean for their businesses.

Simon Bond, a lawyer with Higgs & Sons’ employment team, said it was vital that companies were aware of the new rules and practices and sought expert legal advice where appropriate.

Mr Bond said that under the changes, fees were now payable for lodging a claim at an Employment Tribunal.

Claimants would have to pay either £160 or £250 depending on the nature of their claim, followed by a further hearing fee of either £230 or £950.

Some claimants would be eligible for a fee remission if they were on certain benefits or low income, whilst fees may also be payable by employers in some circumstances.

Mr Bond said that a new set of rules regulating employment tribunals had also been introduced from today, including capping compensation for unfair dismissal at the lower of one year’s gross pay or £74,200.

“That means a Claimant earning £24,000 per annum who wins their unfair dismissal case will be able to recover only £24,000 for lost earnings even if their actual losses are greater than this,” said Mr Bond.

“It should be remembered however that Claimants may also be entitled to receive a ‘basic award’ for unfair dismissal – which is calculated in the same way as a statutory redundancy payment.”

Mr Bond said that any offer made by an employer for a negotiated settlement before a dismissal would now not be admissible in a tribunal unless there had been improper behaviour.

He said the conciliation service Acas has produced a code of practice setting out the best way of making settlement offers and what constituted improper behaviour, which also comes into force today.

“It will be essential that employers are fully aware of this new code and follow it carefully in any negotiations prior to a dismissal,” added Mr Bond.

Higgs & Sons works from two offices in the Black Country – Waterfront Business Park in Brierley Hill and Kingswinford. The firm employs more than 200 people, which includes over 100 specialist lawyers.

For specialist advice for your business relating to employment issues, contact Simon on 0845 111 5050 or email