“Barminess” of UK employment tribunals

According to London Mayor Boris Johnson, writing in the Telegraph, the recent case of a man who is charging a 68-year-old female colleague with unconsented rump-slapping shows that Britain’s employment tribunal system leaves much to be desired:

This could turn out to be a ground-breaking case in the advancement of workers’ rights against the unfeeling boss class. But I sincerely doubt it. It sounds to me like a perfect indication of the levels of barminess now being attained by our system of employment tribunals. The hearing continues, it says at the bottom of the reports, and my first thought is how mad, how incredible it is that this poor man’s grievance – whatever it really is – has come to court.

The hearing continues, while across the country thousands of similar hearings drag their weary length before the matchstick-eyelid tribunals of Britain. Millions of man-hours are wasted, as business people are obliged to give evidence rather than getting on with their jobs. Huge fees are racked up by lawyers and “expert witnesses”, who are called on to pronounce on the exact meaning of an insult, and on all the unverifiable aches and pains and stresses that may constitute a disability.

The total cost of the system has been put at £1 billion for British business, and it is rising the whole time. …

Last month Prime Minister David Cameron proposed relaxing — though only slightly — the tribunals’ grip over firing, hiring, claims of harassment and other workplace matters.


  • If a 68 year old man slapped the bottoms of “all the girls” would we even be having this conversation about a system gone wrong?

    While the system is in fact broken I find the timing somewhat cynical.

  • Yeah, I’d feel pretty uncomfortable if an elderly lady slapped _my_ rump. The man has my condolences.