Consider this article here in connection with the budget which is on Workplace Law:
The Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) has launched a consultation on how to improve the way employment disputes are resolved, while preserving existing employees' rights.
The consultation follows a wide-ranging independent review by Michael Gibbons commissioned in December by Secretary of State Alistair Darling, and published today (21 March). The Government is committed to piloting any new approach to dispute resolution that follows the consultation.
Darling announced in December 2006 that Gibbons would be reviewing options for simplifying and improving all aspects of employment dispute resolution, to make the system work better for employers and employees. The aim of his work was to build on evidence, which the DTI has gathered about the effect of previous changes to the dispute resolution system.
His review looked at all aspects of the system, including the current legal requirements, how Employment Tribunals work, and the scope for new initiatives to help resolve disputes at an earlier stage.
The consultation issued today is focused on better regulation, and asks whether the current statutory dispute resolution regulations need to remain.
These regulations, The Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution) Regulations 2004, came into force on 1 October 2004.
The Regulations were meant to promote better communication in the workplace, and encourage people to talk through disputes when and where they occur – using Employment Tribunals as a last option rather than the first port of call.
However, many employers and lawyers claim that they have failed in this aim, and that, because there are rules to govern who can attend the meetings; what can be said; and the time given to respond, the Regulations are not as straightforward as they first appeared.
Michael Gibbons comments:
"In conducting this Review I was struck by the overwhelming consensus that the intentions of the 2004 Dispute Resolution Regulations were sound and there was a genuine attempt to keep them simple. However they have had unintended consequences which have outweighed their benefits. I have therefore made recommendations today to bring about effective resolution of disputes as early as possible."
In a series of wide-ranging questions, the new consultation asks if there should be:
- a new, swift approach for dealing with straightforward claims without the need for Employment Tribunal hearings;
- a reformed tribunal system with simplified processes and timings;
- an invitation to the CBI, TUC and other representative organisations to produce guidelines aimed at encouraging and promoting early resolution in the workplace;
- incentives for employers to make reasonable attempts to resolve a dispute early; and
- a redesigned application process to tribunals application process, so potential claimants access the system through a new advice service, and receive advice on alternatives when doing so.
Views are sought from businesses, individuals, trade unions, representative bodies, and other interested parties. The consultation will close on 20 June 2007."
We will have to see the extent of ADR in the mix. I hope that there is a strong ADR emphasis.
P.S OUT-LAW.COM have a good piece on this as well.