The Government has a problem. Its programme of extending employment rights since coming to power in 1997 has led to a big increase in employment tribunal claims. Reforms in the latest Employment Act aim to encourage settlement of disputes within the workplace, so reducing pressure on the tribunal system. Later this year, compliance with statutory disciplinary and grievance procedures will become a term of all contracts of employment.
For employers, there will be swings and roundabouts. Employees will not be allowed to resort to a tribunal application unless they have first pursued their grievance internally. But a dismissal without the employer having observed the relevant procedure will be automatically unfair. Whether the reforms will succeed in deterring tribunal applications is doubtful.
They represent a major complication of dismissal law that could lead to more litigation rather than less.