'Compensation culture' sweeping Britain

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The Independent Online

US-style "compensation culture'' is now invading workplaces in Britain, according to business leaders. More than two-thirds of employers reported a rise in "dubious, weak and vexatious'' claims to employment tribunals, according to a CBI report.

US-style "compensation culture'' is now invading workplaces in Britain, according to business leaders. More than two-thirds of employers reported a rise in "dubious, weak and vexatious'' claims to employment tribunals, according to a CBI report.

The growing concern follows the publication of official figures showing that tribunal cases had increased by 17 per cent in the year to April - 16,425 claims more than the previous year.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said the new "have-a-go mentality'' was fuelling a surge in litigation that was both costly and time consuming. "With the compensation culture spiralling out of control, companies do not have confidence in the current tribunal system and are sceptical about the difference that Government reforms will make," he said.

The CBI's survey of more than 500 firms found that 44 per cent of companies believed the present tribunal system was ineffective. Thirty per cent said the structure was too costly and 50 per cent found it to be "too adversarial''.

Mr Cridland said that a minority of workers were "serial litigants'' who turned up at tribunals on a regular basis with spurious claims.

One company reported the fact that CCTV caught a worker falling off his bike outside the factory gates, then getting back on again and falling off inside the factory area in order to claim compensation from his employer.

Tim Watts, chairman of the Pertemps Group, said that one man even came in to one of his company's high street employment agencies and took out a case for unfair dismissal on the grounds that he was told that he was attempting to find a job in an area not covered by the company.

Apart from continuing difficulties with the numeracy and literacy of young recruits to companies, he also said there was a problem of "attitude''. Young people were unprepared for the responsibilities and duties placed upon them by employers.

Mr Cridland said that minimum wage legislation was of increasing concern to employers. He pointed out that a 7 per cent rise due in the minimum wage might lead to a reduction in employment.

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