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In a significant first step in taking forward the Government's comprehensive review of UK employment law, and close on the heels of the Government appointing Lord Young to provide a report on how to make Government more small business and start-up friendly, the coalition today announced that the Department for Business, Skills & Innovation (BIS) and the Ministry of Justice’s Tribunals Service are conducting a public consultation on resolving workplace disputes -http://www.bis.gov.uk/Consultations/resolving-workplace-disputes
The Government's plans are ultimately intended to make it easier for businesses to expand and take on new staff, especially small businesses, by reducing regulation, not least the red tape surrounding the current employment tribunals system and believe that a radical reform on how workplace disputes are resolved is key in alleviating much of the pressures they believe are holding businesses back from expanding and/or taking on new staff.
With the average cost of defending a claim in excess of £4000, and the number of claims steadily rising year on year (Tribunal claims rose to 236,000 last year – a rise of 56 per cent on 2009), businesses have for a long time expressed their concerns that the system is too costly, not just in terms of money but also in precious management time and lost productivity.
Prime Minister David Cameron said “Today's announcements on reforms to employment law are among the first conclusions of our government-wide growth review, and highlight our determination to ensure that employment law is no longer seen as a barrier to growth, while making sure that employees and employers are treated fairly.
Giving businesses the confidence to take on somebody new will be a real boost to the economy, and help generate the sustainable growth we need."
The key proposals set out in the consultation published today are:
Combine today's announcements with the recent reform proposals set out by Lord Justice Jackson, not least the abolition of recovery of Success Fees and ATE insurance premiums from unsuccessful opponents ("recoverability"), essentially the end of 'no win, no fee' claims, many will be wondering what all of this reform will mean to the access to justice of litigants in the future.
So if you thought employment laws were difficult to keep up with before, brace yourself.....it looks like there are plenty more changes in the pipeline which will in themselves put more pressure on Employers to ensure they are compliant, especially faced with the prospect of financial penalties for non-compliance.
Tell us what you think. Is the Government going in the right direction with their proposals, or have they gone too far?