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Statutory Dispute Procedures & Application to Tribunal

Comment 8th July 2010

The Statutory Dispute Procedures should be guidelines for good practice and not part of a cumbersome law. Employment and its associated legislation has been developed into a legal minefield over the past 10 years which prevents economic growth, increased employment and prevails good business sense.

A contract of employment is an agreement into provision of labour/services/skills for return of a desired benefit, usually monetary. Should that service not be of a suitable standard, even with training/dialogue and warnings – the contract should be null and void.

It has taken a significant amount of time and resources to update the Employment Act twice in so many years and in an attempt to appease employers from dealing with a three stage process, we were offered a two stage process for issuing disciplinary proceedings. With the enactment of these proceedings, ALL employers have had to undertake training, attend to their internal procedures and after this huge undertaking – any slip up at all – you end up in court and the Claimant gets "Automatic Unfair Dismissal" – another unnecessary cost – irrelevant of the actual case for dismissal???

So, Labour revamped the three stage process – to two stages, when employers were just being able to swallow the bitter pill. So more cost endured in changing procedures and practices.

Throw into the mix – Employment Law in Northern Ireland:

  • Statutory Dispute Procedures are still the draconian three stage process –  when an opportunity was apparent to change the law (remove, revise to guidelines) and even after huge debate with federations and government – it was wrongly decided to stay with the old system. It never did work in Britain – so they changed it – but keep it here?


  • Industrial Tribunal Applications have no cost implications to Claimants. Frivolous claims can be submitted and a "technical" can create an automatic unfair ruling, regardless of the actual reason for dismissal by the employer. N. Ireland has no simple Ind. Tribunal Appeal Court, we have the High Court!! – What HUGE cost to an employer – barristers, lawyers etc to defend a technical issue.

Change the Procedures to Guidelines, especially since there is no Appeal Court outside the High Court Cost arena.


Why does this matter?

Fairness is utmost in all situations – and People Employment within the Private Sector is difficult enough without having to endure the unreasonable legal writings from a public sector civil servant who has created a Grievance/ loophole about everything in order to complicate what should be a set of guidelines when an employer wishes to dissolve a Contract of Employment.


Change the Statutory Dispute Procedures to "Recommended Guidelines" and out of the law books

  • The procedures have always has been a contentious issue while both the employer and employee require sensible guidelines for conducting meetings – automatic unfairness is not really an option. Does the employee get the same ruling or financial burden if they loose at Ind. Tribunal? – No and especially not in this climate where the employment opportunities are not as available, so Legal Aid is awarded at the taxpayers cost.

Northern Ireland requires an Appeal Court outside the Industrial Tribunals and the High court.

  • Small employers have no chance in defending their actions within this HR minefield when they are faced with cumbersome dispute procedures, they are scared to create jobs incase they have to terminate them at some point. These Small employers are essential – without them – forget an economic double dip, try freefall!

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