LABOUR PLEDGES TO SCRAP EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL FEES
LUKE HUTCHINGS >
PartnerThu 11 September 2014
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, announced while making a speech to the Trades Union Congress on 8 September, that Labour would “scrap” the new system of Employment Tribunal fees should it come to power in next year’s General Election.
This had been hinted at by Labour officials in the past, but this is the first positive statement that the new regime would be junked by an incoming Labour Government. Since being introduced by the Coalition Government in July last year, the number of new claims being made has on some figures dropped by around 70%. Trades unions have expressed concerns that the fees, which can amount to a total of £1200 in most cases, and which are payable by the employee Claimants, are restricting access to justice. There is a system of remissions for those on reduced incomes but the application process has also been criticised.
It is unknown whether a new Labour Government would retain the requirement currently in place for any would-be Claimant to notify ACAS of their intention to claim and participate in an “Early Conciliation” process. This requirement is known to have placed a great deal of stress onto ACAS, the advisory service for conciliation and arbitration, at a time when similar Government funded agencies and organisations have faced deep cuts.
It is believed that Mr Umunna’s proposal to put in place “a fairer system to ensure that affordability is not a barrier to employees seeking redress in the workplace” will feature in the as yet unwritten manifesto for 2015, but this is subject to review.
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