Another twist to the employment relationship

 

The Coalition Government has repeatedly emphasised that it is looking to boost the economy and lower unemployment rates by cutting red tape in the employment sector and making it easier for employers to hire and fire employees. To this end employment law changes, such as increasing the time-limit for claiming unfair dismissal, have been introduced. Unions have been critical to these new measures, as they argue that their effect is to further entrench the employer's role as the stronger party in employment relationships. However, bodies representing employers and companies have welcomed the measures and said that they are long overdue.

In a new move, the Government has decided that it will impose fees on claimants who are looking to resolve a workplace dispute via an employment tribunal. The cost will vary depending on the nature of the case and whether it goes to a hearing, but it can reach £1,200.

What does this mean for employees who have suffered wrongdoing?

This could have devastating consequences for employees who have had their employment rights violated. Some may be deterred from bringing a claim, and particularly those on a low income are unlikely to be able to afford paying the initial fee for having their rights upheld by a judicial body.

The Government considers that it is necessary to impose some type of cost on claimants in order to deter frivolous cases from reaching the tribunals in the first place. They envision that the new measure will significantly cut the cost of using employment tribunals for resolving workplace disputes and encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation. Currently, the cost of cases brought to employment tribunals stands at £84m and is completely carried by the taxpayer.

Should employees pay?

Everyone has the right to have their statutory employment rights upheld and receive compensation where warranted; access to justice should not be dependent on one's bank balance. With the Government's planned cuts to legal aid, the current announcement is another worrying measure that puts individuals who have suffered wrongdoing in an even more vulnerable position.

If you need legal advice on an employment tribunal claim we can put you in touch with an expert employment law solicitor. Call us now on 08001 221 2299.

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