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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 stage.

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 services.


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 options.

* More pre-claim Acas conciliation, with the time-limits on post-claim conciliation removed.

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 share information.

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 Licence.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-11-04 13:05:38 in Employee Articles

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