About the book
Workers’ access to justice in employment disputes is constantly under attack, an attack that has accelerated over the past two years. The Coalition Government’s employment law reforms will fundamentally change the policy and legal framework for seeking justice through the employment tribunal system. The papers in this book examine the difficulties, challenges and possibilities of the UK’s systems for resolving employment disputes: the ‘forensic lottery’ of the unfair dismissal procedures; the role for Acas and others in mediation and conciliation; the very particular crisis for employment rights in times of austerity; and the choices faced by an employment tribunal system at the crossroads. They tell a compelling story about the shortcomings of the present system for employees, the particular difficulties for those workers not represented by trade unions or lawyers, and the dangers of the current and proposed changes to employee rights and employment relations.
The papers were presented at a workshop, ‘Access to Justice in Employment Disputes’, organised by researchers at Bristol and Strathclyde universities who are investigating ways in which workers unable to afford legal representation attempt to resolve employment disputes. The barristers, academics and practitioners who took part in this workshop have all informed this research, which is part of a programme, ‘New Sites of Legal Consciousness: the role of advice agencies in the UK’. The concluding chapter examines future directions for research and collaboration between advice organisations, trade unionists and academics in supporting workers in employment disputes and making public the need for policy changes to support citizens’ rights.
The research is funded by the European Research Council and the workshop was organised with the support of the Centre for Market and Public Organisations at the University of Bristol.
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