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Employment tribunal system ‘requires major overhaul’

The employment tribunal system requires a ‘major overhaul’ if it is to meet the needs of businesses and individuals, a leading business group has said.

According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), employment tribunals should offer claimants and companies informal, quick and cost-effective judgements, yet it claims the current system is ‘slow, legalistic and antagonistic’.

In its submission to the Government’s consultation on workplace dispute reforms, the CBI outlines three key steps which it claims will make the tribunal process quicker and fairer while reducing costs.

To help prevent weak claims, the business organisation suggests that individuals pay a ‘proportionate’ fee, refundable on success, to make them think twice before suing an employer.

The CBI also recommends that compromise agreements, where an employer and employee mutually agree to end an employment relationship without using the tribunal system, should be much easier to use.

It added that league tables for employment tribunals would show how different regions and judges perform against set standards, thereby encouraging best practice and greater efficiency.

Commenting, Katja Hall, chief policy director at the CBI, said: ‘We are saddled with a tribunal system that is expensive, stressful and time-consuming for all parties. Surely it's in everyone's interests for cases with merit to be heard quickly and settled, while weak claims are swiftly identified and weeded out.’

A Department for Business (BIS) spokesman said: ‘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.’

The Government consultation on employment tribunal reform runs until 20 April.