…as concern grows over lay appointees

HR
professionals are concerned that new appointees to employment tribunals lack
experience of employee relations.

Last year,
the Government changed the system of appointment for tribunal members to
encourage more applications from women and ethnic minorities. The changes were
designed to bring the system in line with Lord Nolan’s recommendations on
public appointments.

Jadine
Riley, the CBI’s senior policy adviser on employee relations, said, “I think
the Government has accepted that they did not put as much weighting as they
should have done on practical experience.”

Previously,
the TUC, the CBI and CIPD nominated people who accounted for 95 per cent of the
2,100 lay members of tribunals.

However, of
the 330 most recent appointments, only a few were nominated by any of the
organisations.

Only 13 per
cent of the candidates put forward by the CBI have been successful.

Paul
Pagliari, group HR director at Scottish Power, believes it is too early to
assess the impact.

He said,
“Tribunals need the sort of skills that enable them look at all of the
dimensions of a person’s employment contract so that they can tell whether it
has been fulfilled or breached. Lay representatives have got to be competent.”

Sarah
Veale, employment rights officer for the TUC, said, “We do feel that this has
robbed the tribunals of what everyone always said was important: practical
experience of the workplace. No one knows the background of these people.”

However, a
spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry, which oversees lay
appointments, said the exercise had achieved its objectives. “Everyone had to
have a minimum of five years’ relevant experience,” she said.

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