Scotland allows arbitration in unfair dismissal cases

From
today employees in Scotland in dispute over alleged unfair dismissal can choose
to use the arbitration and conciliation service Acas rather than go directly to
an employment tribunal hearing.

For
people who find the prospect of a courtroom-like hearing in public stressful,
the scheme offers a confidential non-legalistic alternative.

This
brings Scotland in line with employers and employees in England and Wales for
cases of alleged unfair dismissal.

Frank
Blair, the director of Acas Scotland, said: "Some people will still prefer
their day in court, but many do find this process difficult to cope with as it
involves cross-examination and the public airing of often very personal
matters.

"They
can be confident that the same range of outcomes and awards is available as
through an employment tribunal hearing," he said. "The arbitrator’s
decision is written in straightforward language so the parties clearly
understand why they have won or lost their case."

At
the moment, the Acas Arbitration Scheme applies to cases of unfair dismissal
only. Cases about the right to request flexible working are expected to be
eligible from October 2004.

The
scheme is voluntary and both the employer and employee must choose this option
rather than a tribunal hearing.

By Michael Millar

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