Report urges modernisation of employment tribunal service

The Employment
Tribunal System Taskforce has published its report on modernising employment
tribunals.

The report,
commissioned by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt and the Lord
Chancellor, Lord Irvine, looks at making the system more efficient and cost
effective for users.

Janet Gaymer,
Chair of the Employment Tribunal System Taskforce, said:

"The
recommendations made by the Taskforce are intended to be a coherent strategy
for the Employment Tribunal system. This strategy is built on the need of the
system for:

·       
greater co-ordination and consistency of practice – in
which the proposed co-ordinating body will play a central role;

·       
a shift in the axis of the employment tribunal system
so that the emphasis is on early disclosure of information with a view to
identifying the issues in disputes and their efficient resolution;

·       
an emphasis on preventative work and the identification
of, and learning from, best practice;

·       
the use of tribunal proceedings as a last resort after
all other alternative routes for the resolution of disputes have been
exhausted."

Key
recommendations include:

  • Establishing of a
    high-level co-ordinating body to assist the system overall to move forward
    "coherently, with a shared vision and key processes"
  • Greater emphasis on the
    prevention of disputes such as schemes promoting mediation within
    organisations, the development of better internal grievance and disciplinary
    systems and greater use of external mediation services
  • Pilot schemes in
    alternative dispute resolution to explore and evaluate further the
    potential benefits.
  • Earlier disclosure of
    information by all parties to speed up the resolution of disputes.
  • More resources to support
    an IT strategy to improve internal procedures and links between Acas and
    the rest of employment tribunal system.
  • Improved service and experience
    for users, including:
    • better information
      about the system and each stage of the process;
    • improved availability
      of sources of information and advice;
    • improved, minimum
      standards of facilities and accommodation in hearing rooms and hearing centres;
    • a national user group;
    • active local user groups;
      and easier enforcement of employment tribunal awards.

Commenting on
the Taskforce’s report, Patricia Hewitt said:

"We
welcome this report and are grateful for the Taskforce’s recommendations to
improve the operational efficiency of the Employment Tribunal system. We will
now look at their proposals in detail, consider how best to move forward and
respond fully in the Autumn.

"Our aim
is to reform and modernise the system in order to deliver real benefits for
users, particularly small businesses and individual applicants."

The Employment
Tribunals system receives over 100,000 cases a year, relating to more than 80
different areas of law.

http://www.employmenttribunalsystemtaskforce.gov.uk/

By Quentin Reade

 

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