The Government is looking at the possibility of setting up a workplace conciliation service as an alternative to tribunals when workers feel they have been treated unfairly or illegally.
The number of disputes taken to tribunals rises every year. In 1990 there were 43,000 applications to tribunals. Last year it was 130,000.
The growth, which the Government says cannot be accounted for by recent new employment rights as the rate was increasing long before they were introduced, has led to Employment relations Minister Alan Johnson announcing the move towards quick and less expensive workplace resolutions of disputes.
He says defending a tribunal claim typically costs an employer more than Â£5,000 and often results in the employee ending up in a lower status, worse paid job or unemployed, so nobody benefits.
Saying the Government wants to promote conciliation not litigation, the Minister said: It is far better for all concerned if disputes can be prevented or resolved satisfactorily in the workplace, avoiding the stress and cost of litigation.