New legislation on dispute resolution in Britain's workplace's comes into force in October. But the overwhelming majority of firms are ignorant of its implications and view it as yet more unnecessary red tape.
A survey of almost 3,500 UK employers by law firm the Peninsula research found that while three-quarters are aware of the forthcoming Dispute Resolution Regulations, almost all – some 97 per cent – admit that they do not understand the implications of the legislation.
Last year, according to the DTI, Employment Tribunals dealt with 115,000 claims based on work disputes, from problems over pay and conditions, to racial and sexual harassment. Yet research shows that in over a third of cases, the individual and the manager hadn't discussed the problem at all.
The Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution) Regulations come into force on 1st October, and from that date all businesses will need to have in place statutory minimum dismissal and disciplinary procedures, requiring employers and employees to follow a simple three-stage process, in order to ensure that disputes are discussed within the workplace before any further action is taken.
But the deluge of new employment legislation that employers are expected to keep abreast of has had the effect of tarring all new regulation – however well intentioned – with the same brush.
More than nine out of ten of the employers surveyed complained that the new rules would just lead to more time and money being spent on ‘red tape’ a similar proportion feel that there is already too much bureaucracy without introducing more.
Critically, however, failure to comply with the new rules could lead to a dismissal being judged to be automatically unfair.
According to Peninsula's Mike Huss: "If these new statutory regulations are not taken seriously then I fear that employers around the country are sitting on time bombs waiting to explode in litigation claims."