The DTI is poised to announce new
measures to curb frivolous and vexatious claims to employment tribunals.
An announcement by Trade and
Industry Secretary Stephen Byers is expected before Christmas, but could be
made as early as this week.
Byers is expected to extend
significantly the rarely-used powers available to tribunals to deal with
time-wasters. These include requesting a deposit if an employee insists on
taking a weak claim to a full tribunal, or awarding costs against them if a
panel finds in the employer’s favour.
The measures are expected to be
broadly in line with recommendations made by the CBI earlier this year. They
are also likely to address a number of concerns expressed by Personnel Today
readers (Letters, 11 and 19 July).
Dominic Johnson, head of employee
relations at the CBI, said, "Stephen Byers strongly hinted at the CBI
conference that the Government would be taking action. We hope that the detail
of the DTI’s proposals reflects the business concerns that we put to Stephen
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and
Industry has called for an increase in the maximum level of costs that can be
awarded against an applicant from £500 to £5,000. Policy director Louise Beard
said, "We welcome the radical reform of the tribunal process and we would
expect the costs that can be awarded to rise significantly and the powers of
chairmen to be used more rigorously."
She added, "Our members are
facing increasing numbers of frivolous claims. An increase in the costs that
can be awarded would deter people from putting in frivolous claims."
John Renz, HR director at City law
firm CMS Cameron McKenna, said, "It is the process which costs us so much
money – it means we have to take our eye off the ball and end up managing
By Helen Rowe