Employers want protection against speculative claims

New research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has revealed that the majority of employers (69%) feel they don't have "effective protection .. against wholly unjustifiable [tribunal] claims".

One particular criticism was of the ability of employees to bring a claim for unfair dismissal and then "tagging on" some other claim of discrimination in order to try to increase the compensation claim payout. Three in five employers polled said they had experienced such a claim from an employee. Over half of the employers said they would support any changes to the legislation that made it easier for them to dismiss their staff.

The CIPD's employee relations adviser, Mike Emmott, considered that the responses from employers suggested they believed the tribunal system was "broken", and added that "the volume of tribunal claims has increased and employers believe they have no protection against weak or speculative claims." He called for the government to "take a radical look at the existing machinery for protecting employment rights."

The costs associated with a tribunal have become so expensive that employers regularly settle a claim in advance with a compromise agreement, even where they believe it has absolutely no merit, as they tend to pay less than they would if there was a tribunal; British Chambers of Commerce figures published earlier this year say the average cost of settlement was £5,400 compared to a tribunal hearing costing £8,500.

The Trades Union Congress general secretary Brendan Barber warned about reforming the system in favour of employers, and said the important focus was that it be  made "more effective at delivering justice to the thousands of people who every year are wronged at work." He also suggested that the time would be better spent "looking at why so many companies, especially small employers, have such poor employment practises."

If you are an employer or employee in Northern Ireland requiring legal advice in respect of an employment matter contact Wilson Nesbitt solicitors in Belfast by email at [email protected] .

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