Changes In Employment Law

The Government has announced new regulations for those wishing to raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal. They will take effect from the 29th July 2013. The reason for these changes is to reduce the number of claims brought to the Employment Tribunal.

Between April 2011 and March 2012, there were 186,000 cases heard by the Employment Tribunal. It is claimed that a lot of employment cases usually turn on the relationship between the employer an employee rather than the facts of employment law.

The major change is introducing fees when commencing an employment claim. Acas, a publically funded conciliation service, is already used as an attempt to negotiate between parties before going to the Employment Tribunal but the new regulations imply that by introducing fees, it will deter minor cases that would not otherwise succeed.

There will be a remission scheme for those unable to pay the fees, however not as many people are likely to qualify as initially expected. The test for avoiding fees involves a combination of the employee’s capital savings and income.

With regard to the new fees, there has been a draft order and it states that Claimants will have to pay an ‘issue fee’ when the claim is initially lodged and a larger ‘hearing fee’ if the case proceeds to a hearing. The fees vary depending on the employment claim being brought. There are also changes to the procedural rules following a review of the system by Mr Justice Underhill. The new rules will introduce an initial ‘paper sift’ once the claim form and response from the employer have been received.

A Judge will evaluate the documentation with a view of making directions of how the case should proceed, or considering whether a claim should be struck out if it lacks a reasonable prospect of success. The existing management of cases which include pre-hearing review stages will be combined into one preliminary hearing to decrease the number of hearings which go before the Employment Tribunal.

The parties will now be given the right to present submissions explaining why their claim or defence should not be dismissed if the initial ‘paper sift’ suggests this. The key reason for this initial ‘paper sift’ is to remove cases where the Employment Tribunal does not have jurisdiction, such as where the employee does not have the required length of service to bring an unfair dismissal claim.

It is not yet known what effect these new regulations will have on employment claims, but the most important factor in any claim is bringing justice for those who have been unfairly treated in the workplace.

Please see our employment section for further information on employment law. If you have any queries on employment law and believe you may have a claim, please contact us for a free no obligation chat about your employment law matter on 01536 276300 or use our online enquiry form.