Grievance cases soared by a third last year, despite Government reforms. New measures, which were designed to resolve disputes before they reach the Tribunals, and new procedures intended to increase the efficiency of the system do not appear to have had the desired effect.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has expressed concerns over the lack of impact that the new measures have had, stating that employer confidence in the system is low and that the system is viewed as damaging to employee relations. The tribunal process is time consuming and expensive, and according to the CBI, it is for this reason that many employers decide to settle disputes out of court. Even where the employer has been advised that they have a good chance of winning their case, many are hesitant about pursuing the case, as they are unlikely to be able to recover their costs. The CBI is calling for the Tribunals to be more consistent in their dealings with vexatious cases, and for minor cases not to be treated as full-blown grievances.
The Employment Tribunal Service, on the other hand, states that it is too early to judge the impact of the new rules and that while there had been a rise in multiple claims, those from a number of different employees but on the same issue, the number of single claims has fallen. This is supported by research carried out by IRS Employment Review, which shows that while the Government has succeeded in maintaining unfair dismissal case levels, there have been sharp rises in claims in other areas, significantly in the area of equal pay claims.