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Government unveils employment tribunal reforms


New plans to reform the system for resolving workplace disputes have been unveiled by the Government.


The proposals include increasing the qualifying period for employees to bring a claim for unfair dismissal from one to two years. It is hoped that this will reduce the number of tribunal claims and provide businesses with the confidence to take on new workers.


Published alongside the ‘Employers’ Charter’, the consultation document also suggests that claimants may have to pay a fee for bringing a tribunal claim – a measure designed to curb the increasing number of unmerited claims.


According to the Government, tribunal claims rose to 236,000 last year – a record figure and a rise of 56% on 2009 – and business has to spend almost £4,000 on average to defend itself against a claim.


‘We've heard loud and clear the concerns from businesses up and down the country that the system has become too costly, takes too much time, and that it is too easy to make unmerited or vexatious claims,’ said a government spokesman.


‘We're particularly concerned that it places unnecessary strains on small businesses,’ he added.


Meanwhile, John Cridland, the CBI's director-general designate, said: ‘For far too long, the tribunals system has put the interests of lawyers above those of employers and employees.


‘Extending the qualifying period for unfair dismissal is a positive move that will give employers, especially smaller ones, the flexibility and confidence they need to hire.’