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
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