Access to industrial tribunals increased

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EMPLOYEES who have been dismissed can now have all their claims heard by industrial tribunals, writes Ian Hunter.

Contractual claims, usually caused by the failure of the employer to give adequate notice of intention to terminate the contract, were heard only by the courts until last Tuesday. Cases for unfair dismissal went through industrial tribunals.

Now employees can choose to have all claims heard by the tribunals, although they still have the right to go to court.

Industrial tribunals are normally quicker than the courts. Damages are based on the value of the net salary and fringe benefits (such as the use of a car or pension contributions) to which the employee would have been entitled during the notice period.

In the courts there is no limit on the damages that can be awarded although more substantial claims must be heard in the High Court.

Employees who have been employed for a continuous period of at least two years enjoy additional statutory protection on dismissal. They may claim either for unfair dismissal or redundancy, or both. Claims for breach of contract in either the County or High Court must be presented within six years of the date of dismissal.

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