Delay puts more pressure on tribunal system

There has been yet another delay to the planned arbitration scheme for
individual workplace disputes.

The scheme, intended to reduce the mounting pressure on the tribunal system,
is now set for summer this year, more than a year late.

The tribunal service desperately needs a reduction in demand. It has been
forced to open eight extra court rooms in London and the South East to deal
with the surge in claims since new employee rights came in last year.

Last month the TUC reported a threefold increase in fresh claims to
tribunals.

"It is still stuck with DTI lawyers," said a spokesman at
arbitration service Acas. "There is nothing we can do to influence it at
this stage."

Acas said it is difficult to anticipate demand. It has recruited sufficient
arbitrators to deal with 1,000 cases a year.

Shadow Trade & Industry Secretary Angela Browning told Personnel Today,
"We did predict this when the Employment Relations Act was going through
the House – that the knock-on effects would be not only additional cost to
employers but a flurry of cases to tribunals."

Unions are keen to use arbitration, the TUC reported. "We are keen to
see its introduction as soon as possible," said a spokeswoman. "It
will be quicker than tribunals, and individuals will be more likely to get
reinstatement."

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