Employment tribunal system needs an overhaul

The CBI has described the employment tribunal system as slow, legalistic and antagonistic in its submission to the Government’s consultation on reforms to the way that workplace disputes are resolved.

The business group said it wants to see a major overhaul of the system aimed at making the process faster, fairer and less costly. Specifically, weak or vexatious claims should be sieved from the system so that valid claims get a quicker hearing.

There should also be a fee charged for lodging a claim so that only sensible complaints are brought forward. Another of the CBI’s recommendations is that settlements should be encouraged at an early stage. In other words, a formal system for making offers to settle should be put in place. Although compromise agreements, where an employer and employee negotiate a deal without going to tribunal, are fair, the CBI argued that the legal process surrounding them has become too complicated and expensive.

Lastly, the CBI said that the tribunals themselves must be made more efficient and consistent. One way of doing this would be to introduce tribunal league tables detailing how different regions and judges perform against set standards.

Katja Hall, the CBI’s chief policy director, said: “The tribunals system has gradually become a barrier to justice. Even where a successful outcome is likely, firms try to avoid the heavy costs and long delays. A programme of common sense reforms is long overdue. We need to see a transparent, fairer system built around the interests of legitimate claimants and responsible firms.”