DTI launches consultation to fix flawed dispute resolution regulations

The DTI has launched a consultation on how to improve the way employment disputes are resolved, while preserving existing employee rights.

The consultation follows a wide-ranging review by Michael Gibbons, commissioned in December by trade and industry minister Alistair Darling.

The review followed strong criticism from both employers and unions of the current statutory dispute resolution regulations, introduced in 2004.

The consultation asks if there should be:

  • a new, swift approach for dealing with straightforward claims without the need for employment tribunal hearings
  • a reformed tribunal system with simplified processes and timings
  • incentives for employers to make reasonable attempts to resolve a dispute early
  • a redesigned application process to tribunals application process, so potential claimants access the system through a new advice service, and receive advice on alternatives when doing so.

The consultation also extends and invitation to the CBI, TUC and other representative organisations to produce guidelines aimed at encouraging and promoting early resolution in the workplace.

The government has said it is committed to piloting any new approach to dispute resolution that follows the consultation.

Gibbons said: “In conducting this review I was struck by the overwhelming consensus that the intentions of the 2004 Dispute Resolution Regulations were sound and there was a genuine attempt to keep them simple.

“However, they have had unintended consequences which have outweighed their benefits. I have therefore made recommendations to bring about effective resolution of disputes as early as possible.'”

The consultation will close on 20 June 2007.

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