Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Job tribunals shake-up unveiled

The Government has unveiled plans to overhaul employment tribunals and make other changes to employment law

The Government has unveiled plans to overhaul employment tribunals and make other changes to employment law in moves ministers said would save tens of millions of pounds.

Business Secretary Vince Cable will say that the "most radical reform package for decades" will ease the duties of firms when they recruit, manage and let staff go, while being "fair" to workers.

The minister will also call for evidence over the current 90-day consultation period on redundancies, with the possibility of reducing it to 30 days.

The Government said evidence suggested the 90-day period was too restrictive for companies and did not give them enough flexibility with their business plans.

The package of measures published includes plans for all claims to go to the conciliation service Acas before reaching an employment tribunal, options for a "rapid resolution scheme" to offer cheaper, quicker decisions on more straightforward claims, and a regional pilot scheme for smaller firms to use mediation.

Mr Cable will also confirm plans to increase the qualification period for making a claim from one to two years of employment from next April, and a consultation on "protected conversations" to allow employers to discuss issues such as retirement or poor performance without it being used at a subsequent tribunal claim.

The Government believes the reforms would deliver over £10 million of savings and benefit employers to the tune of £40 million.

A Business Department spokesman said: "We need to make the system simpler for employers and employees. This package will make it easier for businesses when taking on, managing and letting go their staff, while also being fair to workers."

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "This agenda is being driven by the CBI, who want the balance of power in the workplace tilted even more against the ordinary worker.

"These changes will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of workers to bring cases of victimisation, unfairness and bullying at work. This will just sweep abuse under the carpet. Last year 218,000 workers felt that they had no other way to deal with problems at work."

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