As part of its comprehensive review of employment legislation, the Government has published a consultation document, ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’. This seeks views on measures designed to improve the Employment Tribunal (ET) system and to encourage and facilitate the early resolution of workplace disputes. The proposals include:
- increasing the qualifying period for employees to be eligible to bring a claim for unfair dismissal from one to two years;
- requiring all claims to be lodged with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service in the first instance in order to allow pre-claim conciliation to be offered;
- extending the jurisdictions where an Employment Judge can sit alone to include claims of unfair dismissal, introducing the use of legal officers to deal with certain case management functions and taking witness statements as read, rather than having them read out by the witnesses themselves; and
- tackling weak and vexatious claims by providing ETs with a range of more flexible and robust case management powers, so that weaker cases can be dealt with in a way that does not mean disproportionate costs for employers.
The consultation also includes a proposal to introduce financial penalties for those employers found to have breached an individual’s rights.
The consultation can be found on the website of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The Government has also published an ‘Employer’s Charter’, which is aimed at raising the awareness of employers as to what they can and cannot do when managing their workforce.
A separate consultation will shortly be issued by the Ministry of Justice on introducing fees for ET cases and appeals, to ensure that users contribute towards the cost of running the system.