CIPD doubts over tribunal reforms

Claims
by the Government that its plans to reform the tribunal system will reduce the
number of employment tribunals by up to 40,000 a year have been doubted by the
CIPD.

The
Department for Trade and Industry made the prediction in its document Routes to
Resolution: Improving Dispute Resolution in Britain, which outlines the
proposals (see below).

Mike
Emmott, head of employment relations for the CIPD, has welcomed the reforms,
many of which are included in next year’s Employment Bill. However, he is
sceptical that they will have such a significant impact in reducing employment
tribunals.

"The
DTI’s estimate of the impact of these measures on reducing the number of
employment tribunals is much more than I would have expected," he said.

"I
think it is optimistic, but the Government is bound to want to put a gloss on
its activities."

Emmott
believes the number of employment tribunals will continue to increase, at least
in the short term, as new legislation in the Employment Bill on paternity
leave, equal pay questionnaires and flexible working requests becomes law from
April next year.

Emmott’s
views are supported by a survey of more than 2,000 employers published last
week, which shows that more than four in 10 managers report that the number of
unfair dismissal cases has grown over the past year.

The
study, by the Future of Work programme and the Economic and Social Research
Council, also finds that one in six companies have reported an increased wage
bill for legal advice about employment-related issues.

By Ben Willmott

www.dti.gov.uk/er/individual/etresponse2.htm

The
tribunal reforms include:


Plans to make it easier for tribunals to strike out weak claims


The introduction of a fixed period of conciliation


Improved promotion of alternative dispute resolution


The introduction of statutory grievance procedures at work


The introduction of a fast track for straightforward tribunal claims

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