Thompsons is calling for an urgent review of the new rules dispute resolution procedures, which it says is resulting in 1000s of claims being turned away.

The call follows a report from the CBI, which claims that business is losing confidence in the employment tribunal system following the introduction of new rules last year. 

This is despite the fact that the number of tribunal cases has fallen dramatically since last October, with 1000 claims a month rejected because the claimant has not followed correct procedures.

The CBI claims that companies are concerned about the complexity of the new procedures.

It complains that the dispute resolution procedures promote procedures over the substance and merits of workplace problems and demands that tribunals should take a common sense approach in applying the dispute resolution rules.

Yet it goes on to demand:

“Employees should be required to formally and unequivocally state that they are raising a grievance in a letter using the wording: ‘I am raising a grievance regarding…’” 

Joe O’Hara, of Thompsons’ Employment Rights Unit said:

“So the CBI wants informality for employers and extra formality for employees.  Haven’t employers got it easy enough already? When an employee fails to follow the grievance procedure, they lose their right to bring a complaint to an ET.

“Yet the penalty for the employer who gets it wrong is, at worst, punished only by an increase in the compensation they must pay, and the employee has to win their case for that to happen.

“The CBI conveniently forgets that the statutory procedures set an absolute minimum standard, due to the thousands of small employers without any procedures at all, who account for a high proportion of tribunal cases.”

The bosses’ organisation offers no statistical analysis or evidence – not surprising when all the evidence points to the dispute resolution procedures acting against the best interests of workers and to the benefit of employers. 

Tribunals are rejecting around 1000 claims per month on the ground that the claimant has not properly grieved.  Of these claimants, three-quarters do not try again. 

Unions’ worst fears have been borne out – when a tribunal rejects a claimant’s ET1, that kills off the case once and for all.

The CBI also demands that claimants should have to pay a charge when they lodge their ET1 form. 

“The Government seems ready to consider this old chestnut, despite it having been rejected time after time as unjust,” Mr O’Hara said.

“The Dispute Resolution rules are doing exactly what the DTI hoped they would.  New claims have fallen by 25% compared to the previous year and tribunals are rejecting alarming numbers of claims.

“It appears that the DTI is not monitoring the impact of the new rules nor examining what happens to the claimants sent packing by the Tribunals – there is certainly no evidence that they are going back to their employers to resolve their disputes. 

“Far from being unfair to employers, the horrible complexity of the dispute resolution scheme and the new tougher tribunal procedure rules are depriving thousands of workers of the right to have their complaints assessed by an independent tribunal.”

Thompsons is calling on the government to consider at least the following reforms:

  • repeal the admissibility rules, so that a failure to grieve will at worst affect compensation and will not lock a claimant out of the tribunal
  • simplify the rules so that employees do not have to grieve when complaining about any form of disciplinary action
  • simplify the complex rules for extending time limit, perhaps by changing all tribunal time limits to 6 months
  • sort out the numerous technical problems that are giving rise to injustice to claimants.