Workplace Dispute Changes To Save Business Time And Money
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Released 04 Nov 2008
New measures that will simplify workplace dispute resolution and save
business over £175m a year reach their final stages in Parliament today.
The changes will lighten the load on business by encouraging earlier, more
informal resolution of workplace disputes.
Minister for Employment Relations, Pat McFadden, said:
"In the current economic climate, regulations can be a big concern for
business and we want to help simplify them where we can. These changes will save
employers valuable time and money.
"It's clear the business community wants to see streamlined, straightforward
and effective procedures to deal with disputes and workers want to have good
safeguards in place to protect them.
"We're moving away from the current, rigid legal process for resolving
disputes. Instead we're encouraging employers and employees to come together and
resolve their issues earlier and informally."
The new system, set to come into force in April 2009, will give employers
greater flexibility to develop systems which better suit their workplace. Acas
is developing a statutory code of practice to set out best practice guidelines
for employers and will be able to step in and mediate disputes at an earlier
The Government is providing up to £37 million, over three years, helping Acas
provide more conciliation and boost the effectiveness of its helpline and advice
1. The Employment Bill responds to the Gibbons Review of dispute resolution.
It repeals Regulations introduced in 2004 as part of a wider package aimed at
encouraging early resolution of disputes. The package includes:
* More discretion for tribunals - awards to be adjusted up or down by up to
25% at tribunal's discretion, if party or parties fail unreasonably to comply
with a revised Acas Code on discipline and grievance.
* A revised Acas Code, drafted to be concise and principles-based, so as to
encompass reasonable behaviour. It will be supported by non-statutory guidance
to provide more help to those who need it.
* An enhanced Acas Helpline, with more capacity, to provide clear advice on
* More pre-claim Acas conciliation, with the time-limits on post-claim
2. The Bill will also:
* Toughen up penalties for those who break the law, increasing the maximum
penalty for underpayment of the national minimum wage or employment agency
offences from a £5,000 fine to an unlimited fine. The most serious cases of
non-compliance will be tried in a Crown Court, which will have the power to
impose an effectively unlimited penalty.
* Introduce a fairer method for dealing with national minimum wage arrears,
calculated so that workers do not lose out as a result of underpayment.
* Strengthen the investigative powers of the Employment Agency Standards
Inspectorate, allowing them greater scope to access financial information to
help them check whether a worker's complaint is an isolated instance, or an
example of widespread abuse.
* Allow those enforcing the minimum wage and employment agency standards to
3. The Employment Bill is due to have its Report and Third Reading stage in
the House of Commons on Tuesday 4 November.
4. The Department for Business helps UK business succeed in an increasingly
competitive world. It promotes business growth and a strong enterprise economy,
leads the better regulation agenda and champions free and fair markets. It is
the shareholder in a number of Government-owned assets.
5. Acas aims to improve organisations and working life through better
employment relations. It provides up-to-date information, independent advice,
high quality training, and works with employers and employees to solve problems
and improve performance. For more information, go to
About the Author
© Crown Copyright. Material taken from the BERR- Department
for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform replacing DTI - Department for
Trade and Industry. Reproduced under the terms and conditions of the Click-Use
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-11-04 13:05:38 in Employee Articles