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Employment law: Government set to reform employment tribunals

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The law concerning unfair dismissal claims may change under new proposals from the Coalition government.

Business secretary Vince Cable outlined reforms this week that, if they go ahead, will increase the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims from one to two years.

It is hoped the move will lessen the deterrent for small businesses to take on workers.

The current UK employment tribunal system was heavily criticised for being "costly and time-consuming" after a government review.

The Guardian website cited a number of facts taken from the white paper that include:

  • Businesses spend almost £4,000 on average to defend themselves against a claim
  • The number of employment tribunal claims increased to 236,000 last year - a record figure and a rise of 56% on 2009

Cable also put forward the move to introduce fees for bringing tribunal claims. This would hope to reduce the large number of unmerited or vexatious claims.

It is hoped the reforms, if they go ahead, will appease small businesses' fear of the employment tribunal system.

But Cable added workers who were genuinely exploited by "unscrupulous employers" would still be able to go to tribunal after conciliation.

Is the proposed reform a positive move for the economy and firms?

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Vince Cable sets out proposals to reform employment tribunals (Guardian)
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