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Government publishes workplace dispute reform proposals

The UK Government is consulting on its latest proposals for employment law reform, focusing on the resolution of workplace disputes. The proposals follow a 56 per cent increase in the number of Employment Tribunal claims in 2010, and concerns raised by employers over the cost and length of time involved in the current Tribunal process.

 

The Government wants to enable workplace disputes to be resolved as early and as easily as possible. The key proposals set out in the consultation are:

  • Giving businesses greater confidence to hire new staff by increasing the qualifying period for employees to be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal from one to two years.
  • Encouraging parties to resolve disputes between themselves as early as possible – requiring all claims to be lodged with Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) in the first instance to allow pre-claim conciliation to be offered.
  • Speeding up the Tribunal process – extending the jurisdictions where judges would sit alone to include unfair dismissal, introducing the use of legal officers to deal with certain case management functions and taking witness statements as read.
  • Tackling weak and vexatious claims.

 

There is also a commitment for the Ministry of Justice to consult separately on introducing fees for Employment Tribunal cases and appeals, to ensure that users contribute towards the cost of running the system.

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