Tribunals must be used as last resort, says CBI

Costly employment tribunals should be a last resort for resolving disputes
in the workplace, not the first action taken by disgruntled employees, claims a
new CBI campaign.

The CBI is calling for more disputes to be resolved at an earlier stage
while the member of staff still works for the employer.

Company grievance procedures and pre-hearing reviews should be used more
effectively to avoid litigation, and Acas should be involved at an earlier

Figures published by the CBI show that tribunals are costing businesses 50
per cent more than they were two years ago.

The legal, management and recruitment expenses for UK businesses have risen
from £426m in 1999 to £633 million in 2001.

However the full business cost is estimated to be millions more as this
figure does not include out-of-court settlements, the loss of productivity and
staff cover or additional intangible costs such as damage to reputation and
diversion of management time.

Digby Jones, director general of the CBI, said, "Occasional disputes
are inevitable and sometimes the tribunal system is the most appropriate way of
sorting them out. But too many cases end in litigation when they could have
been resolved in the workplace.

"We need a fair, efficient tribunal system, but we also need all
alternatives exhausted before anyone gets near a courtroom."

The CBI based its costings on government figures suggesting that each
application costs the company £2,000 in legal and management expenses.

The average cost of recruiting a new employee is £3,500, which the CBI
estimates to be necessary in at least 75 per cent of cases.

By Katie Hawkins

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