Plans to combat spiralling tribunals will fail, says HR

Employers are concerned that government measures to curb the spiralling
number of employment tribunals will fail after the latest figures reveal
another big rise in tribunal applications.

Research by employment law firm Peninsula shows the number of employment
tribunal applications leapt 8.5 per cent in 2001 to 128,406 on top of a 15 per
cent increase the previous year.

The Employment Bill, which will come into force later this year, aims to cut
the tribunal caseload by introducing a range of measures, including: encouraged
use of internal disciplinary and grievance procedures and making all disputes
subject to a fixed period of conciliation.

But David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at the Engineering
Employers’ Federation, is concerned the Bill is too complex and will not cut
claims to employment tribunals

"Potentially, it’s more complicated for small employers – there are too
many variables. We need clarity in the legislation."

Yeandle said pending legislation – in particular, laws relating to age
discrimination – will create even more tribunal cases.

The Employers Forum on Statute and Practice, is not optimistic that the
measures outlined in the Employment Bill will have a significant impact on the
number of employment tribunals.

Chief executive Robbie Gilbert said: "People are becoming increasingly
litigious. They do seem to want their day in court.

"The establishment of the Acas scheme last year, which was supposed to
offer a quick way of resolving disputes, has coincided with a determined effort
on the part of the tribunals to cut waiting times. Tribunals almost seem to be
marketing themselves as preferable."

Denise Walker, head of corporate personnel at Nationwide, supports plans in
the Employment Bill to promote in-house grievance procedures, but she fears the
Bill will produce "grey areas" and create problems due to its
complexity.

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