More than a third of employers support cut in employment tribunal fees

Unison is continuing a legal battle over the introduction of what it describes as ''unfair and punit

Unison is continuing a legal battle over the introduction of what it describes as ''unfair and punitive'' fees workers must pay to bring tribunal proceedings against their employers. - Credit: PA

More than a third of employers believe employment tribunal fees should be significantly reduced or abolished altogether, new research has revealed.

Cases have plunged since the Government introduced charges almost two years ago, especially for discrimination claims.

But while employers might have been expected to welcome the barrier to claims being set higher, a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has found that nearly as many believe the fees should be cut or abollished.

A survey by the CIPD of 1,000 employers found that they were split, with 38% saying fees should be left as they are, 36% wanting them cut or scrapped and more than a quarter (26%) undecided.

The CIPD said the 70% fall in tribunal claims since fees were introduced was “unprecedented.”

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Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser for the CIPD, said: “The introduction of fees has had a major impact on the behaviour of both employees and employers. The drop in claim volumes is unprecedented and shows just how far the terms of trade have shifted.

“Employers have long complained about the damaging effect that weak or unsubstantiated claims have on their business but given the staggering drop in claims since, it must be the case that some perfectly valid claims have been discouraged as a result of the new fees. Fees may not make it impossible for claimants to pursue their case but they’ve certainly made it more difficult, which begs the question – are we putting too high a price on justice?

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“It’s unlikely that the current fees regime will survive the general election in May by many months as all three major political parties have indicated an intention to review it. Assuming that fees survive in some shape or form, it will be important to get the balance right between having a fee structure that is simple to understand and one that is proportionate to the type of claim being made.”

Depending on the type of claim, fees of up to £1,200 to take a case to an employment tribunal are now payable.

The Unison trade union is continuing a legal battle to overturn the fee structure introduced by the Coalition Government.

It has had two applications for judicial review rejected by the High Court but has been granted leave to appeal, although a full hearing is not expected to take place until after the General Election.

The surprise finding of the CIPD survey of employers may indicate that some businesses feel they have more to lose from unscrupulous competitors getting away with poor employment practices than from the risk of being taken to an employment tribunal themselves.

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