The UK government has announced a shake-up of employment law that will see a new three- stage statutory consultation procedure introduced to ensure that staff and employers discuss workplace disputes before launching tribunal cases.
The new measures, aimed at small firms and others which lack formal disciplinary procedures, are due to come into effect in October next year.
The three-step process will stop aggrieved workers launching tribunal cases against their employers without first complaining to them in writing. Full details of the grievance must be provided to the other party and both parties will be required to meet to discuss the problem and to go to an appeal if requested.
Organisations that dismiss workers without following the new process will face an automatic finding of unfair dismissal under the new regulations.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry, the majority of employers, who already have comprehensive disciplinary procedures, will be unaffected by the changes.
The number of tribunal applications has risen to about 112,000 in 2001-2 from 103,000 in 1999-2000, and the DTi says that then new procedures will cut the cost, stress and disruption caused by this growing number of hearings.