Complex reforms undermine employment tribunals

UK businesses are losing faith in employment tribunals because reforms brought in last year are too complex, according to a report by the CBI.

The report marks the first anniversary of reforms that changed workplace dispute resolution practices and the Employment Tribunal’s rules of procedure.

It confirms that the number of tribunal cases has fallen since the new rules came into effect; but the CBI does not see this as proof of success.

“The new tribunals procedures are falling short,” said John Cridland, deputy director-general of the CBI.

“They may be having an impact on absolute numbers but are unnecessarily complicated and run the risk of undermining business confidence. The number-one priority for any review must be making the regulations more user-friendly.”

Cridland argued that tribunals need to adopt a more consistent, common-sense approach. “They must properly judge claims on their merit,” he said, “allowing deserving ones to be heard while striking out unscrupulous ones.”

But TUC general secretary Brendan Barber replied: “The suggestion that the tribunal system is clogged up with vexatious claims is ill-founded. However, the new dispute resolution legislation is complicated and the government plans to carry out a review in two years,” he said.

“The CBI should not pre-empt the outcomes of this review before in-depth research has been conducted on how the procedures are operating in practice.”

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