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The Coalition government's reforms to employment tribunals and statutory employment rights—echoes of the past


  • Linda Dickens

    Corresponding author
    • Correspondence should be addressed to Linda Dickens, Industrial Relations Research Unit, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL; email

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    • Linda Dickens is Emeritus Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Warwick.


The current Coalition government's reforms of Employment Tribunals (ETs) and statutory rights echo the articulated rationale and argument, the underpinning deregulation ideology and the content of reforms initiated by Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s. The changes, while generally adverse for workers, are not necessarily positive for employers and risk adding to, rather than alleviating, the regulatory ‘burden’. A declared emphasis on alternative dispute resolution and workplace dispute settlement distinguishes the current reform agenda, but the potential this offers is unlikely to be realised given the short-term policy focus on cost reduction, an emphasis on suppressing and deterring legal actions rather than on improving workplaces and the absence of such facilitating features as workplace representation and institutions, a continuing legacy of the 1979–1997 period.