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New Measures to Reduce Employment Tribunal Cases

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Workers who use employment tribunal procedures to make unfounded allegations against their former employers could be “charged” up to £10,000 under new rules expected to be announced today.

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Stephen Byers, is expected to announce a government initiative to show that ministers are responding to concerns expressed by businesses about increasing red tape. He is expected to show a curbing of the practise by dismissed employees of bringing unfounded cases to employment tribunals.

In recent years the number of cases before employment tribunals has risen by 15,000; employers organisations are believed to have told the government that the system is loaded in favour of disgruntled ex-employees.

Employers are increasingly believed to be settling cases before they go to tribunals rather than face large legal fees. The Secretary of State is expected to announce that tribunals will be able to dismiss unfounded claims without a hearing. At present, if a case is thrown out, the maximum costs that can be awarded against a claimant for unreasonable behaviour is £500. Mr Byers is expected to raise this figure to £10,000.

The average award to successful claimants is currently running at £2,500.

New rules are expected to be enforced by next Easter.

Whilst the changes are expected to be attacked by unions and employee groups, the Confederation of British Industry has welcomed the move.

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