Labour Party Outline Key Employment Policies Ahead of the 2015 General Election
15 September 2014 by Lawrence Adams
Early last week, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna announced to the annual TUC Congress that, should Labour win the 2015 General Election, it will scrap what it calls the “unfair” tribunal system.
What Labour terms as “unfair” is of course the controversial imposition of fees for Employment Tribunal claims. The current fee system came into force in June 2013 and has had a dramatic effect on the employment litigation environment.
Claimants previously enjoyed a “no risk” cost neutral environment when bringing a claim in the Employment Tribunal. With no fees payable to lodge the claim, and awards of costs very rare, claims were actively encouraged.
The announcement coincides with the latest release of quarterly Employment Tribunal statistics which appear to show that claims in the Employment Tribunal have fallen by around 70% when measured against similar, pre-fee regime time periods. 3,792 claims were filed between April and June 2014 which is the lowest number recorded in a three-month period since statistics were first published in 2008/09.
The Conservatives have placed a different PR spin on the statistics. They highlight the positive effect that Employment Tribunal fees have had in bankrolling the service and on reducing the number of frivolous claims.
While fees are a contributing factor in the reduction of Employment Tribunal claims, there are other reforms that have also had their effect. Earlier this year, for example, we saw the introduction of the ACAS early conciliation scheme which made Alternative Dispute Resolution a mandatory, pre-action step.
There are steps that can be taken to reduce the costs of Employment Tribunal claims both from the perspective of the employee and the employer. Employees considering bringing a claim can take advantage of a fee remission system if their earnings are below a certain level or they are in receipt of certain passported benefits. Similarly, employers can take advantage of the ACAS early conciliation scheme and attempt to negotiate an early settlement, avoiding the costs normally associated with considering a Defence.
If you are an employee considering bringing an Employment Tribunal claim, or an employer looking at defending a claim, our Employment team are available to advise on the process and on the various ways of funding claims. Our employment team is available by telephone on 01206 835 230 or by email at [email protected] or [email protected]
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