Further to the report in Bite Size November 2006 that the DTI have been considering changes to the statutory dispute resolution procedures first introduced in October 2004, the DTI has now formally confirmed that there is to be a review of the options for simplifying and improving all aspects of employment dispute resolution. The move follows concerns over the impact of the Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution) Regulations 2004, which require employers and employees to comply with minimum disciplinary, dismissal and grievance procedures.

The government introduced the statutory procedures in the hope that more disputes would be resolved in the workplace, thereby heading off significant numbers of claims being brought before Tribunals. However, a DTI press release has now announced that Michael Gibbons, a member of the Better Regulation Commission, will lead an independent review involving business representatives, trade unions and other interested parties.

Recommendations for change are expected to be made to the DTI next Spring.

The announcement of the review follows a period in which the DTI has canvassed evidence from bodies such as the Law Society, which in October published a submission calling for the abolition of the statutory grievance procedures. This stance reflected the earlier findings of an Employment Lawyers Association survey. This revealed that 14% of respondents believed the grievance procedures were leading to more claims being resolved before reaching the tribunals, and nearly all those surveyed thought they were costly and time-consuming for employers and employees.