The CBI said figures from the Tribunal Service, showing a 25% fall in employment tribunal claims last year, could be skewed by the longer time it takes disputes to reach tribunal.
Commenting on the figures that show 86,181 cases were brought to tribunal last year, compared with 115,042 the year before, John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: “The new statutory discipline and grievance procedures have had a positive effect in ensuring employees raise grievance with their employer before going to tribunal, giving the opportunity to resolve the dispute at the workplace.
“However, claims are now likely to take longer to reach tribunal while these procedures are followed, so the final figures are therefore unpredictable.
Cridland said the figures do not prove conclusively whether or not the new procedures have been effective in weeding out weak and vexatious claims.
“Businesses in the UK will certainly be hoping today’s welcome decline is sustained,” he said.
The CBI’s 2004 Employment Trends Survey revealed that 69% of employers had seen a rise in weak and vexatious claims. It also showed that just 35% thought the tribunal system was effective, while 50 % viewed it as too adversarial and 30% said it was too costly.
Such concerns were a key driver for the introduction of new statutory procedures in October 2004.
The CBI survey also found that more than a quarter of respondents’ cases were settled out of court despite advice that they were likely to win.
Firms said the costs and inconvenience of defending claims were often too large to justify fighting a weak claim all the way.