Union deal cuts cases

A pioneering partnership deal between armed forces retailer Naafi and union MSF aims to cut the number of cases taken to employment tribunals.

As part of the agreement, senior HR staff at Naafi and MSF officials review dismissal cases soon after the event. The cases can be referred by either side.

HR director Mike Nicholson said the reviews mean any failings on the part of management can be picked up early on, removing the need for costly out-of-court settlements at a later stage.

He said, "We are not always going to agree and in that case the process would proceed as before. But where we have dismissed someone and have not entirely followed the right process we would agree compensation there and then.

"Similarly, where we agree that management acted fairly, the union will not support that case."

Nicholson said the move is cutting legal costs and the amount of unnecessary friction between management and staff.

He added, "What we want to do is bring the whole question of industrial relations into the 21st century. We believe there is no case for industrial action. If you want a successful business, management and unions really need to work together."


For HR professionals, the Acas report finally provides confirmation of a trend many have experienced first hand. Whether it be as a result of the Employment Relations Act or the recently implemented Human Rights Act, employers can be in no doubt that staff now have far more avenues through which they can pursue grievances.

Richard Allen, HR director at HM Customs & Excise, said, "We have not seen a noticeable change in claims over the past year but I think the big change for us could be the Human Rights Act."


Bruce Warman, a member of the Acas council and personnel director at Vauxhall Motors, said, Good practices and procedures that mean you will get fewer cases. Otherwise you are going to get swamped. HR cannot use the tribunal system as a way of avoiding having good industrial relations."


Rita Donaghy, Acas chair, added that it would be several years before firm conclusions can be drawn .

She said, "I think we need time for the legislation to settle down before we can see whether it is part of a compensation culture.

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