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Gibbons Review Puts Pressure on Companies to Mediate First.
The eagerly awaited Gibbons report on workplace dispute resolution in the UK, which was commissioned by Department for Trade and Industry Minister Alistair Darling, has concluded that the 2004 Dispute Resolution Regulations, although 'well intended', had failed and should be repealed.
by David Liddle | 5th Apr 2007Instead, the report recommends that future measures should be simpler, more cost-effective and more flexible. The independent review proposes the establishment of a workplace dispute resolution and mediation service for cases where early resolution looks possible and above all to increase the use of mediation.
The work undertaken by TCM is a key feature of the report and Mr Gibbons stated that he was greatly encouraged by the successful use of mediation in employment disputes elsewhere in the world and advises to increase its role in UK workplace disputes.
The Gibbons review recommends that the Government should:
- Repeal the statutory dispute resolution procedures set out in the Dispute Resolution Regulations (described above)
- Produce clear, simple, non-prescriptive guidelines on grievances, discipline and dismissal in the workplace, for employers and employees.
- Ensure there are incentives to comply with the new guidelines, by maintaining and expanding employment tribunals’ discretion to take into account reasonableness of behaviour and procedure when making awards and cost orders
- Challenge all employer and employee organisations to commit to implementing and promoting early dispute resolution, e.g. through greater use of in-house mediation, early neutral evaluation, and provisions in contracts of employment - such as those provided by TCM.
- Introduce a new, simple process to settle monetary disputes on issues such as wages, redundancy and holiday pay, without the need for tribunal hearings.
- Increase the quality of advice to potential claimants and respondents, through an adequately resourced helpline and the internet,
- Make clear the potential benefits of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to achieve more satisfactory and speedier outcomes to employment disputes.
- Redesign the employment tribunal application process, so that potential claimants access it through the helpline and receive advice on alternatives when doing so.
- Offer a free early dispute resolution service, including where appropriate mediation, before a tribunal claim is lodged for those disputes likely to benefit from it.he Government should pilot this approach.
- Offer incentives to use early resolution techniques by giving employment tribunals discretion, to take into account the parties’ efforts to settle the dispute, when making awards and cost orders.
Abolish the fixed periods within which Acas must conciliate.
Michael Gibbons stated during the review that:
“The overall purpose of the recommendations is to bring about effective resolution of disputes as early as possible. The consequences of success would be less disruption to workplaces and to individuals’ careers, and reduced burdens on the resources of all concerned – employers, employees and the state.”
The Department for Trade and Industry has welcomed the report and responded by launching a consultation with industry in order to find the best solution to solve workplace disputes for both employers and employees.
This is a significant and potentialy historic review with far-reaching implications!
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