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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Resolving Workplace Disputes

The Government has recently presented the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to Parliament. The Bill is a central element in the Government’s aim for strong, sustainable and balanced growth, powered by investment, exports, technology and enterprise.

Key measures of the Bill include:

  • Improving the employment tribunal system;
  • Setting up the new Competition and Markets Authority;
  • Setting the purpose of the UK Green Investment Bank; and
  • Giving shareholder binding votes on directors’ pay.

The Government is changing the name of ‘Compromise Agreements’ to ‘Settlement Agreements’ to help improve understanding of their purpose. This is part of a broader package to simplify and increase the use of such agreements to resolve workplace disputes, particularly for small businesses, without the need for an employment tribunal.

The Bill will also make the determination of less complex disputes quicker and cheaper for employers and employees alike, through a new ‘Rapid Resolution’ scheme, which will allow legal officers to determine prescribed employment tribunal claims. This will resolve more straightforward employment disputes – such as holiday pay – quickly and at less cost to both parties.

In the Queen's Speech at the official state opening of Parliament, the Government has outlined its priorities for the coming Parliamentary year.

With regards to employment, the Government intends to introduce an Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which will:

  • Overhaul the employment tribunal system.
  • Transform the dispute resolution landscape.
  • Strengthen the framework for setting directors’ pay by introducing binding votes.
  • Extend the Primary Authority scheme, reduce inspection burdens on business and strengthen the legal framework for sunset clauses on regulation.
  • Cut the burden on business and citizens by repealing unnecessary legislation.

The Chartered Management Institute welcomed the announcement. Petra Wilton, Director of Policy and Research, commented:

“These welcome measures should provide greater freedom for managers and leaders to create working environments that can fully engage employees and help drive UK economic growth. CMI’s member surveys show that more flexible working arrangements and shared parental leave have been demanded for many years by the majority of managers. The new Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which promises to repeal unnecessary legislation and limit state inspections of companies is also very welcome, but businesses leaders will need to see the detail to see how much of the regulatory burden will be lifted in practice.” 

Employment tribunal changes have come into effect from Friday 6th April as part of the Government's employment law reform measures.

There were 218,000 tribunal claims in 2010-11, a rise of 44% since 2008-09, with each business spending nearly £4,000 per claim on average defending itself. There is an additional average cost of a £1,900 to the taxpayer per claim.

The changes mean that from 6th April:

  • The qualifying period for claiming unfair dismissal will rise from one to two years.
  • Judges will be able to sit alone in unfair dismissal cases.
  • Witness statements can be provided in writing as opposed to the current rules where a witness reads their own statement out aloud.
  • The maximum level for costs awarded to businesses winning a vexatious tribunal claim will rise from £10,000 to £20,000. Deposit orders required by claimants when a judge determines that a part of claim is unmerited will increase from £500 to £1,000.

The Government has also announced its intention to publish the average value of awards and time taken to reach a hearing. Included in the guidance for tribunal application and response forms, this information will provide all parties with a greater understanding about what to expect from the tribunal process before they enter the system.

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