The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) recently prepared a report “The Right Balance – Delivering Effective Employment Tribunals”. The UK Employment Tribunal System was established to deliver the recommendations of the Donovan Commission which called for a system that would be “easily accessible, speedy, informal and inexpensive”.
According to the Report, today’s employment tribunals are failing to meet these standards with some 570,200 claims waiting to be heard and on average each claim taking around 18 months to process. These failings, the CBI claims, mean that poor justice is done, employees with valid claims have to wait for compensation while costs soar for employers whether they win or lose the claim.
The root of the problem seems to be that tribunals have become too much like courts. The CBI suggests that tribunals often deliver for themselves rather than employers and employees and this trend must be reversed. It is also argued by the CBI that Employment Judges should be more proactive and focus clearly on dispute resolution using Case Management Discussions and Pre-Hearing Reviews to shorten the ultimate Hearings. Also making available and incentivising the use of alternatives to a tribunal is desperately required.
Importantly, the Report insists that something has to be done to alleviate the problem of the system rewarding those who play it best. The CBI calls it “gaming the system”. Firms facing a tribunal claim must decide whether to contest the claim or not. But contesting even a weak or vexatious claim can involve high costs so it may be cheaper to pay the Claimant off rather than fight the claim. Further, it appears that when the Claimant is represented then it is not uncommon for their representative to add all possible claims irrespective of merit.
The CBI Report notes that in 2011/12 more than 56% of unfair dismissal claims included an additional claim. Employers can also “game the system” by not paying compensation when this is awarded in the hope that court action will not be raised by the employee for recovery of the compensation awarded to them.
I would welcome reform. What do you think?
Our court department can assist in representation at Tribunals across Scotland. If you require further information please contact Paul Neilly (firstname.lastname@example.org).