Majority of employers back tribunal powers to cancel unreasonable claims

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Almost three-quarters of employers want Employment Tribunals to have greater powers to remove weak or vexatious employment claims from the system, according to a new survey from law firm, DWF LLP.

73% of the businesses surveyed backed Employment Tribunals having wider powers to ‘strike out’ claims that are deemed to be spurious and have no reasonable chance of success.

DWF commissioned the survey as part of its contribution to the Government’s consultation on tribunal reform.The Government has recently proposed greater powers for Employment Tribunals, which include increasing the deposit required for making a claim against an employer and extending the time for an employee to make a claim for unfair dismissal from one year to two years.

The survey found that employers are keen to resolve disputes as early as possible with over half of the 111 employers surveyed (51%) backing early conciliation with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) as a means of resolving an employment dispute. However, 66% of employers surveyed said that they had never used workplace mediation as a means of resolving a dispute.

71% of employers backed the proposal to introduce formal offers to settle cases early on. The proposal also means that if a formal offer is rejected a Tribunal could issue a financial penalty to a party rejecting a reasonable settlement.

89% of employers wanted employment judges to request deposits from employees making a claim throughout the tribunal process, not just at pre-hearing reviews.

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The current deposit is set at £500 – the Government has proposed to double this to £1,000. DWF found employers were split on plans to double the deposit with 51% of those surveyed rejecting an increase.
Kirsty Rogers, Head of the Employment team at DWF, said:
“Employers are rightly asking for a more robust and streamlined tribunal process. It is important that changes to this area of law are made with care, so as to protect employers from rogue claims whilst ensuring employees’ rights are protected – whilst employees must not be priced out of justice by costly deposits this does need to be balanced with the cost of spurious claims to employers.

“We believe extending the length of the qualifying period for an employee to be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal from one to two years would have limited positive effect, encouraging employees to pursue claims where there is no qualifying service. The right way forward is to strengthen the tribunal process by targeting vexatious claims whilst encouraging early and robust mediation either in the workplace or through ACAS or the tribunal.”

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