Labour Research May 2002

Law Matters

Employment Bill is "anti-employee"

An all-party parliamentary committee on human rights has attacked the current Employment Bill as "anti-employee".

The committee , composed of members of the House of Commons and House of Lords, says that the government's proposals, to deny access to tribunals where individuals have not used internal procedures, could result in a violation of the rights to access to justice in a fair hearing as guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998.

The committee has said that the BIll, which is likely to become law by July this year, needs to be more carefully drafted to ensure that the penalty on the individual is not disproportionate in terms of the advantage to the state in costs savings. It also believes that the new law will give too much power to the secretary of state as he can use it to restrict access to tribunals even further.

Lord Wedderburn, a leading employment lawyer and member of the committee, told Labour Research that these provisions are "anti-employee" and that unless the Bill is changed "workers will find that they are unable to enforce their rights in the future to a very serious degree".