Plans to simplify the rising tide of Britain's employment legislation have backfired as the new laws are tested in tribunals.
Legislation governing how employers deal with sackings and staff rows were introduced to encourage them to get sorted out at work.
But bosses are increasingly resorting to tribunals to interpret the issues.
Jog Hundle, a partner in the employment team at the Birmingham office of law firm Mills & Reeve, claims that as a result businesses are more baffled than ever.
The most recent spate of cases from the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) have concentrated on the definition of a "grievance".
Ms Hundle said: "The law now requires all employers, whatever their size, to have in place minimum statutory procedures for dealing with grievances in the workplace.
"Most of the recent cases from the EAT have been focused on what constitutes a grievance, and how this needs to be communicated."
A grievance is defined in the Employment Act as "a complaint by an employee about action his employer has taken or is contemplating taking in relation to him".
The employee must notify the employer of the grievance in writing. He must then wait 28 days before commencing further proceedings.
The outgoing president of the EAT, Mr Justice Burton, laid down some general guidelines, including: a grievance does not need to be particularised; the document setting out a grievance can double as something else, for example, a letter of resignation; the document need not say it is a grievance; and the employee does not need to comply with an contractual procedure to raise a statutory grievance.
Among those documents that have been held to be statutory notification are a letter of resignation with reasons; a conditional letter of resignation; a solicitor's letter and a request for flexible working, after an earlier informal request had been refused.
Ms Hundle said: "There are no formal requirements that need to be satisfied in order for a document to amount to a grievance.
"Employment tribunals seem to be willing to give the employee a considerable degree of latitude.
"From an employer's perspective, however, it is not always easy to spot a document which amounts to a grievance."
The CBI, in its recent report Restoring Faith in the Employment Tribunals, highlighted the complexity of the new procedures, claiming that businesses were losing confidence in the employment tribunal system.
The report recommends that claimants should be required to make it clear in writing that they are lodging a grievance so employers know they have to begin the appropriate procedures.
It urged tribunal chairmen to "take a common-sense approach to the new procedures and concentrate on the substance and merit of cases - not overly focus on the technicalities of process".
Ms Hundle added: "Tribunals need to get back to basics, rather than concentrating on semantics. Only then will employers know where they stand."