The government has unveiled plans for the quicker resolution of workplace disputes – as new research suggested that UK employers remained “cautious” on recruitment.

In his opening speech at the second reading of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, the Business Secretary Vince Cable set out the government’s plans to introduce a measure to boost business confidence and ease the handling of workplace disputes.

Meanwhile, a study by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG suggested the rate of permanent placements across the UK continued to grow in May, but at the slowest rate for five months.   

The REC said: “This month’s data shows employers are becoming more cautious about hiring and the figures have been getting weaker over the last two months.”

Under the measures outlined yesterday by Cable, employers will be able to offer settlement agreements before a formal dispute arises and will be legally protected from this offer being used as evidence in an unfair dismissal tribunal case.

Employees will also continue to enjoy full protection of their employment rights, as they can choose to reject the offer of a settlement agreement and proceed to a tribunal.

Cable said: “This Bill is an important part of this government’s plan for long-term growth: fostering enterprise, supporting business and creating jobs.

“Settlement agreements are smart, fair and pro-business reforms, which deliver results for employees and employers. It empowers employers by enabling them to keep their workforce flexible and encouraging alternative ways of solving workplace problems, rather than resorting to a tribunal. But crucially, it does so in a way that keeps the necessary protections for employees in place.”

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