05 Jun 2012

Will Government Reforms really make Employment Tribunals Quicker or Cheaper?

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The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill was presented to Parliament yesterday with Vince Cable saying that it will “…help make Britain one of the most enterprise-friendly countries in the world.”

From an employment perspective, the Bill intends to simplify the employment tribunal system by encouraging employers and claimants to settle disputes through an early conciliation service which will be offered by Acas from 2014. As a result, it is believed there will be an increase in the use of compromise agreements – which the Bill now terms “settlement agreements.”

Until we see the plans for applying the intent of the Bill, it is difficult to assess whether the proposed service will result in savings for employers. Remember, Acas already provide a conciliation service for employment tribunal claims and so it will be interesting to see their proposals to make the new service more effective than the existing one.

The other concern is whether the reforms encourage pragmatism rather than justice for employers. How many will be tempted simply to save money by coming to an early settlement through Acas rather than incur high legal costs at Tribunal to prove that they acted fairly and reasonably?

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