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The Employment Tribunals Service and Labour’s Vows to Reform the System

The Employment Tribunals Service and Labour’s Vows to Reform the System

The Labour Party has said that if it is elected to government it will scrap the current employment tribunal system. Announcing the plans, Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary, told the Trades Union Congress that the current system which imposes fees on people launching claims is unfair.

He argued that the fees, which were introduced in July 2013 and range from £160 to £250 to issue a claim, and £230 to £950 for a tribunal hearing – are “locking people out of the justice they are entitled to”, citing figures that show that since the fees were introduced in the last reforms to the tribunal system the number of claims have fallen by 45%.

“If we are elected, the next Labour government will abolish the current system, reform the employment tribunals and put in place a new system which ensures all workers have proper access to justice,” he declared.

However, despite saying the current system would be replaced with a “more streamlined and less bureaucratic” procedure for employees and employers, Mr Umunna stopped short of committing to revoking fees altogether.

Businesses cautious about the new employment tribunal changes proposed

Reacting to the proposals, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that although the current system could be improved, it did not believe that there is a case for abandoning it entirely.

“Recent reforms which encourage early resolution of disputes are a step in the right direction, and fees to make a claim are a vital part of that. Fees should not remove access to justice for those with legitimate claims, so a review of the level set is something businesses could support,” Neil Carberry, the CBI’s director for employment and skills policy, comments.

He added that whatever system is in place, it must work fairly for both employers and employees, warning that for years businesses have been frustrated by delays in the system and by false and misleading claims that take up time and resources”.

The CBI’s stance was shared by other business groups. James Sproule, the Institute of Directors’ head of policy, said that fees are a “sensible way to weed out weak or vexatious claims”.

“Before the refundable charges were introduced, fewer than one in 10 tribunal cases against IoD members were won by the claimant, wasting large amounts of money and management time for businesses,” he explained.

Mr Sproule went on to warn Labour that: “It must very careful that they do not once again make the system a one-way bet, where the entire burden is on the employer.”

Tim Thomas, from EEF, the manufacturing organisation, added: “Employers will be keen to ensure Labour’s plans for employment tribunals do not lead to a rise in unsubstantiated claims. In keeping with fees required for most other types of legal dispute, those for employment tribunals must be large enough to prevent speculative claims, but not be an unreasonable barrier to genuine claimants”.

Employment tribunals and settlement agreements

Businesses want to focus on profitability and the smooth daily running of their operations. If there’s one thing that can derail that objective, it’s an employment dispute. At IBB Solicitors, we understand how important it is for you to have the right legal advice to quickly resolve conflicts.

Our emphasis on continuing personal development for our employment law solicitors means that we use the very latest information, adopt best-practice procedures and constantly improve client service. This way, we can work to broker a swift and smooth resolution to any form of employment dispute. We provide expert advice on: Employment tribunals and dispute resolution, Employment contracts and policies, Redundancies, TUPE, and Settlement discussion and agreements.

Find out how we can protect your business and your reputation as a fair employer by calling us on 01895 207892. Alternatively email your details to employment@ibblaw.co.uk.