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UK Employment Law | Free Law Essay
Disputes Resolution at Work Place: The Practical, Procedural and Legal Aspects. Analyze this question in the context of the UK Employment Law.
Literature Review and Methodology
Chris Chapman, ILS (Industrial Law Society) Spring Conference 8 May 2004. Title: "Employment Tribunal Reform- An Integral Part of Workplace Dispute Resolution or an Economy measure? Do they achieve the ideals of access to justice, fairness and efficiency, and user-friendly public service"? This speech looked at the general background and history of the passage of the Act and its subsequent regulations through Parliament. It is a very thorough critique addressing the practicalities of the Act in the workplace and its application in the Employment Tribunal post 1st of October 2004. The author refers to the practicalities of case-management post 1st October 2004; the future of conciliation under the new rules; practicalities of commencing tribunal proceedings and its effect on both the tribunal and the litigants themselves.
Chris Chapman also refers to other contributors who have added to a wider range of literature on the topic, such as Professor Gwyneth Pitt and His Honour Judge Prophet . His Honour Judge Prophet amongst other things, posed in the seventh paragraph of the memorandum a very interesting commentary which allows a broader analysis of the 2004 Regulations and in effect the practicalities of implementation. This is, that if an employee who refused a redundancy payment to which he is legally entitled to do, might have his payment reduced if he failed to follow grievance procedures. His Honour Judge Prophet noted that in applying the new rules, the employee would then in effect be denied access to the Employment Tribunal for failing to give an acceptable reason for using the applicable procedure.
Professor Sir Bob Hepple QC and Gillian Morris , both contributed similar commentaries on the idea behind the new rules. It is a critique on the intentions of the Government in changing the law. This piece investigates the realities of the Government's cost reduction agenda by comparing the possibilities of amending the ACAS code, which they say could have easily been achieved.
The writer should start with the above references in order to understand the reasoning of government and background to the new rules. The Industrial Law Society website is a useful staring point (www.industriallawsociety.org.uk) for the writer to do this. There are links to lists of speakers that have contributed a whole deal to the subject. In 2004, this included Peter Schofield and Richard Ascough titled, "Dispute Resolution-A Dog's Diner"
The Department of Trade and Industry
The Department of Trade and Industry has made publications geared at both employees and employers in order to facilitate the new regulation, and for a smooth transition into smooth adherence to its requirements. This information can be accessed via their website at www.dti.gov.uk/er. The website contains details and a whole range of documentation about the Act, the consultation process and the steps to be taken in order to ensure adherence. It also contains a section aimed at assisting employees and it contains links to law centres and agencies that can offer their advice accordingly. In essence, it is a useful starting point on understanding the provisions of the new rules as to be applied by employers and employees.
The Employment Act 2002(Dispute Resolution) Regulations came into force on 1st October 2004. The Act requires that all employees must have in place minimum statutory procedures, which would in effect deal with dismissal, disciplinary action and grievances in the workplace. This is in effect relevant to employers regardless of size. In essence, the regulation imposes on them the legal requirement for them to inform all their employees of the procedures in place.
The aim of the Act is to build and enhance constructive employment relations in order to avoid litigation by developing better communication and improved conciliation. The Act was designed to encourage those involved in an employment relationship to discuss problems before resorting to Employment Tribunals. The obligation demands that both the employer and the employee follow a three-step minimum process when dealing with most dismissals, disciplinary and grievances procedures . The new three-step procedure was given full effect on 1st October 2004. The consequence of failing to abide by this is that it may result in the incurring of sanctions, which is normally financial penalty. In outline, the three-step process involves putting in writing any grievances, disciplinary and dismissal issues when they arise; meeting and discussing face to face in a meeting arranged by the employer; and appeal meetings if required.
Where the disciplinary or dismissal procedures have not been met before the case goes to the employment tribunal, this may in some circumstances affect a money award, in terms of decreasing an award if an employer was at fault for instance. There are practical obligations concerning procedures that have been imposed on both the employer and the employee. Where the employer does not follow the new statutory provisions regarding grievance procedures and the employer dismisses the employee, the employee may complain to an employment tribunal who will normally find the dismissal automatically unfair and compensation will be increased. Similarly, where the employer fails to follow the new statutory rules, and where the employer take s other disciplinary action, short of dismissal and a successful claim is made to the employment tribunal about that action, any money awarded to the employee is likely to be increased by between 10% and 50% (this is on the assumption that the failure to follow the procedures was not the employee's fault).
The Act has no bearing on dismissals that took place before 1st of October 2004, even if the procedures undertaken by the employer carries on until after this date. The Act also has no bearings in instances where an employee brings a claim about a grievance that took place after the Act came into force.
- Harvey's Practitioner's Guide, Industrial Relations and Employment Law, Volume Two: LexisNexis Butterworths 2005
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