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05 October 2004

New procedures aim to reduce the number of tribunal claims
From this month the government is introducing new dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures, with the aim of reducing the number of claims taken to employment tribunals. Employees must follow the grievance procedure to attempt to resolve disputes internally before claims will be considered by employment tribunals. And employers who fail to follow the dismissal and disciplinary procedures now face claims of automatically unfair dismissal.

From 1 October 2004, all employers have to comply with the new statutory disciplinary and grievance procedures. Where they already have procedures in place, they must ensure these are consistent with the new rules. Employers must also provide written details of their procedures to all employees.

It is vital for union reps to be familiar with the new procedures and the accompanying Acas code of practice, and failure to comply with the procedures - by employees or employers - will have an impact on the amount of compensation awarded in any subsequent employment tribunal claim.

The Labour Research Department's latest booklet, Disciplinary and grievance procedures - a guide to the new law, explains the requirements of the new statutory procedures and sets out the advice given by the updated Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures.

However, the new procedures only set out a minimum standard, and Disciplinary and grievance procedures offers advice on negotiating disciplinary and grievance procedures with the employer, as well as guidance on how to handle disciplinary and grievance hearings. It also explains the right that workers have to be accompanied to disciplinary and grievance hearings.

Also from this month, there are changes to the rules relating to employment tribunals. In particular, there are extensions to the time limits for many claims as a result of the requirement to first follow the internal grievance and disciplinary procedures. There are also changes affecting compensation awards and how claims must be submitted, which are all explained in the booklet.

Notes to editors
1. Disciplinary and grievance procedures - a guide to the new law is published by the Labour Research Department, 78 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HF, price ?4.20 or ?10.95 for employers or commercial organisations. LRD booklets are also available on subscription at an annual cost of ?30.95 (?76.95 for employers/ commercial organisations). LRD publishes 10-11 booklets each year.

2. The Labour Research Department is an independent trade union and labour movement organisation founded over 90 years ago. Around 1,800 trade union organisations, including 55 national unions, representing 99% of total TUC membership, are affiliated.

3. For press enquiries on this booklet contact Sally Buffard on 020 7902 9824. To order copies of the booklet telephone 020 7928 3649.

4.Full information about all of LRD's services and publications is available on the LRD website at www.lrd.org.uk.

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