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Government publishes report on resolving workplace disputes

Employment law expert John Morris from Burnetts Solicitors in Carlisle and Newcastle has warned that a government report on resolving workplace disputes could be bad news for employers and employees alike.

A senior employment lawyer has warned that a government report on resolving workplace disputes could be bad news for employers and employees alike.

The report, Resolving Workplace Disputes, follows a consultation by the Department for Business, Skills & Innovation (BIS) and the Ministry of Justice’s Tribunals Service. The following changes are to be introduced into employment law:

• An increase to two years in the length of service an employee must accrue before they are entitled to bring a claim of unfair dismissal.
• Removal of direct access to the Tribunal by requiring all claims go to Acas for an attempt at conciliation before being allowed to progress to the Tribunal.
• For the first time, the government is also introducing financial penalties for employers who breach “employment rights” with fines being paid to the Treasury, rather than being paid as compensation to claimants.

Burnetts’ Senior Partner John Morris is on the Law Society’s Employment Law Committee, he was the Chair until last September, and is also a Part-time Employment Tribunal Judge.

He said, “The central motivation for this review was to save money for both the taxpayer and the parties involved in Employment Tribunals. Overall, I think we are seeing a shift towards employers having the greater advantage in employment law. The extension to service before an employee can bring a claim of unfair dismissal means that, from April 2012, (except in certain “protected” cases) an employer can pretty well dismiss with impunity anyone with less than two years’ service. Interestingly, in the consultation, this was a proposal which was opposed by the majority of respondents, but it has been kept in the final report.”

“Also on the employer’s side, the Acas filter may resolve some disputes without the need for a costly Tribunal. To balance that, this new penalty for breaching employment rights could have a big impact on an employer’s costs if they unsuccessfully fight a claim.”

John concluded, “What is clear is that there are plenty more changes ahead. In particular, the Government is promising further consultation on Tribunal fees and awards of costs, which could have a big impact for claimants.”

The resolution of workplace disputes is an issue which also exercised the previous government: in 2009, the Dispute Resolution Review saw the introduction of the Acas Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance following the repeal of the much-criticised statutory grievance procedures which were introduced in 2004.

John Morris will be hosting a “Resolving Workplace Disputes”: An Expert’s View webinar 1pm – 2pm on 8th December which will include a short presentation on the key issues followed by an audience Q&A session.

23rd November 2011

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For further media information / photograph or interviews, please contact Angela Huck at Burnetts on 01228 552222 or at ash@burnetts.co.uk

Note to Editor:

The full report is available at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/employment-matters/docs/r/11-1365-resolving-workplace-disputes-government-response.pdf

This consultation , which closed in April this year, is part of a five year review being undertaken by the Government to meet their aim of ensuring employment law maximises flexibility for employers and employees while protecting fairness and enabling a competitive environment. For further information about the Government’s Employment Law Review, visit http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/employment-matters/employment-law-review

Further information on Acas is available at http://www.acas.org.uk.

Published: Wednesday 23rd November 2011
Categorised: Education, Employment

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