Resolving Workplace Disputes
31 January 2011
As part of its comprehensive review of employment laws, the Government has issued a consultation document "Resolving Workplace Disputes".
The aim is to encourage resolution of disputes more quickly and cheaply, by the use of mediation and the simplification of the employment tribunal process.
The key proposals are to:
- increase the qualifying period for employees to be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal from one to two years
- require all claims to be lodged with ACAS in the first instance to allow pre-claim conciliation
- speed up the tribunal process by allowing judges to sit alone in unfair dismissal cases, introducing the use of legal officers to deal with certain case management functions and taking witness statements as read
- tackle weak and vexatious claims by providing the employment tribunals with a range of more flexible case management powers (such as issuing deposit orders at any stage of proceedings, making them more flexible and increasing the deposit and cost limits)
- review the way in which employment tribunal awards and limits are revised each year.
In order to encourage early settlements, reduce speculative applications and encourage greater compliance, there are also proposals to:
- require additional information on the nature of the claim and to include a statement of loss with each claim
- withdraw the payment of expenses
- introduce financial penalties for employers found to have breached employment rights to encourage greater compliance.
The consultation will close on 20 April 2010 and it remains to be seen whether these proposals will actually be implemented.
There has also been widespread publicity of the Government's intention to introduce a fee for bringing employment tribunal claims and appeals, in order to ensure users contribute to the cost of running the service. The Ministry of Justice will consult separately on this issue in the spring.