July 20, 2012 - Kasia
Changes to the rules governing workplace tribunals have been announced by the Government — including a plan to charge fees as a way of encouraging the use of mediation and early resolutions.
Since the Government announced its intention to start charging fees in 2011, the Ministry of Justice has now published the results of its consultation and it proposes that from summer 2013 claimants will be charged fees ranging from £160 to issue a straightforward claim to £950 to run a hearing of a more complex case.
The Government-funded Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) will continue to provide a free dispute resolution service, with tribunals serving as a last resort for the more complex cases.
Although the claimant will in most cases be expected to pay any fees in advance of raising a claim, many claimants on low incomes will be exempt from the fees and the tribunal will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fees to the successful party.
In addition, Mr Justice Underhill has published the findings of his review of Employment Tribunal Rules.
His key recommendations include:
Norman Lamb, the employment relations minister, said: "Mr Justice Underhill has made a number of sensible, well thought of recommendations which we will consider".
Meanwhile, figures from Acas show that more employers and employees are accessing help earlier to avoid employment tribunals.
Demand for Acas' early dispute resolution service, Pre-Claim Conciliation (PCC), rose by a third (34%) in 2011/12 — with Acas dealing with 6,000 more cases than the previous year. Pre-Claim Conciliation was launched in April 2009 and aims to resolve workplace problems before they result in a costly and stressful employment tribunal claim.
Annual statistics from the Employment Tribunal Service show that there were 186,300 employment tribunal cases last year, a reduction on the previous year. The most prominent claims include unfair dismissal, breach of contract and unauthorised deduction of wages. It reports that there were also a large number of claims in respect of redundancy pay and failure to consult properly in a redundancy situation.