The Employment Relations Act 1999

This Act came into force on 27th July 1999.

1. The ceiling of the Compensatory Award in Employment Tribunals increased significantly.
2. Compensatory and Basic Awards linked to the Retail Prices Index and so rise with inflation. This came into force on 25th October 1999.
3. Abolition of the Special Award, but tribunals have the discretion to make additional awards of compensation of between 26 and 52 weeks pay. This came into force on 25th October 1999.
4. Entitlement to up to 13 weeks Parental Leave for employees to care for child/children. Under the Act this is unpaid; however, employers can provide for paid leave in their employment contracts. This came into force on 15th December 1999.
5. Right to Maternity Leave after one year's service.
6. Entitlement to take a reasonable amount of time off to deal with domestic incidents, this time is unpaid, this came into force on 15th December 1999.
7. The right to be accompanied by a fellow employee or trade union representative during a grievance and disciplinary procedure. Colleagues will be allowed time off during working hours to accompany a fellow worker who is going through a grievance and disciplinary procedure.
8. Any dismissal for taking parental leave, leave for domestic incidents, extended maternity leave, or accompanying a fellow worker going through a grievance and disciplinary procedure will be automatically unfair and can form the subject of an unfair dismissal claim to an employment tribunal. This came into force on 25th October 1999.
9. Part-time workers were given the same rights as full-time workers.
The changes which took immediate effect are changes relating to trade union activities which are as follows:
a) Trade unions with more than 20 members can now apply to the central arbitration committee for recognition, where an employer is failing to recognise that union, as long as they meet certain conditions.
b) Dismissal or selection for redundancy will be automatically unfair if the main reason is connected to trade union recognition or collective bargaining. Tribunals can now make interim relief orders.
c) Unions no longer need to give the employer a list of their members' names when holding industrial action ballots or calling strikes.
d) The period between the ballot and the start of industrial action can be extended from 28 days to up to 8 weeks by agreement between the employer and the union.