The government has launched a new consultation on plans improve the way in which workplace disputes are resolved.
The proposals, published on 27 January alongside an Employer’s Charter, come after tribunal claims rose to 236,000 last year – a record figure and a rise of 56 per cent on 2009 – with businesses involved each spending an average of almost £4,000 to defend a claim.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Disputes in the workplace cost time and money, can affect morale, reduce productivity and hold back businesses.
“We often hear that knife-edge decisions about whether to hire new staff can be swung by concerns about ending up in an employment tribunal if things don’t work out. [Our] proposals address these concerns and should help give employers more confidence.” They include:
- increasing the qualifying period for employees to be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal from one to two years
- encouraging parties to resolve disputes between themselves as early as possible, requiring all claims to be lodged with Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) in the first instance to allow pre-claim conciliation to be offered
- speeding up the tribunal process
- tackling weak and vexatious claims.
The consultation runs until 20 April 2011.
The Employer’s Charter is designed to dismiss some of the myths about what employers can and cannot do in managing their workforce.
It tells employers what they are reasonably entitled to ask and know about employees and what action they can take if there are problems.
LINK: Employer’s Charter