In May 2011 we reported that the Coalition government had announced plans to reform UK employment laws. But are the employment law reforms good for employers? Details of the reforms are slowly starting to emerge as the Chancellor has announced that:
1. As from the 1st April 2012 an employee will need to have been employed for 2 years as opposed to 12 months before they can bring a claim for unfair dismissal against their employer
2. Secondly, fees will be introduced for commencing Tribunal claims. It appears the following fees will apply:
upfront fee of ?250 to commence a Tribunal claim
further fee of ?1,000 payable by the Claimant when a hearing is listed
higher fees if the claim is for over ?30,000
fees to be refunded if Claimant wins and forfeited if they lose
fees to be waived for those with no money
Will there be exemptions?
The financial test is yet to be set down by the Government, as is the legislation proposing these changes. However, if the test for a fee-waiver is simply being on state benefits, then most ex-employees who are still out of work will presumably qualify for the waiver.
This is a somewhat radical departure from the current regime within the Tribunal system as claimants are only usually required to pay a deposit to continue their case if it is deemed to have ?little reasonable prospect of success. Also costs are generally only awarded against a party when they or their representative has acted unreasonably in bringing or conducting the proceedings or when the claim is misconceived.
Only time will tell if these changes will actually reduce the number of claims brought against employers. If would like any further information or employment law legal advice, get in touch.