Employers welcome tribunal powers

Measures
set out by the Government last week to reduce the growing number of employment
tribunals have been welcomed by employers’ bodies.

The
Employment Bill includes the requirement for employers and staff to use
internal grievance procedures before making an employment tribunal application.

As
part of this process, the Government will also introduce a fixed period of
conciliation to encourage settlement.

The
bill will give employment tribunals the power to penalise employers and staff
through the size of the awards they make if either party has not followed
grievance procedures first.

Under
the new proposals, due to become law in April 2003, employees will also have
the right to find out information on equal pay directly from their employer.

Robbie
Gilbert, chief executive at the Employers Forum on Statute and Practice, thinks
the bill is a step forward.

"Employers
will welcome and support the use of internal procedures, as the first most
employers hear about a problem is at a tribunal. But it will only affect the
margins," he said.

Mike
Emmott, employee relations adviser at the CIPD, said, "We strongly support
the idea that workplace grievance procedures should be exhausted before a case
reaches tribunal. The fact that it cuts both ways – employers’ requirement to
provide and staff’s to use – is helpful."

The
bill also includes proposals to increase maternity provision and for paid
paternity leave.

Employment
Bill proposals:


The requirement for employers to have internal grievance procedures and for
employees to use them


A fixed conciliation period to settle disputes


A fast-track system for pay claims


Employee equal pay information to be shown to staff prior to dispute going to
tribunal


Awards to be penalised if internal grievance procedures are not used


Six months’ paid and a further six months’ unpaid maternity leave for mothers
and adoptive parents


An increase to £100 from £62 a week maternity pay


Two weeks’ paid paternity leave

www.dti.gov.uk

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