Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Tribunal fees causing trouble

Employees could be missing out on a fair hearing as a rise in tribunal fees may mean they can’t afford to make a claim, a Telford solicitor has warned.

Lubna Laheria from the employment team at Martin-Kaye, said rising tribunal fees had also given employers less of a reason to consider early conciliation.

“It’s clear that employers believe the fees will discourage employees from going to tribunal, and so it’s far less likely that they’ll feel the need to agree to conciliatory talks.

“The new fees mean that for financial reasons, employers are tempted not to engage in the early conciliation process, in the hope that employees won’t be prepared to pay the tribunal fee that’s required to bring a claim, or the hearing fee either.”

Lubna was speaking after a House of Lords committee held an enquiry into the way the Equality Act 2010 was being implemented.

“Many leading barristers and discrimination law specialists have given evidence to the committee, and the Law Society has also called for radical changes to the employment tribunal structure too.”

Lubna said since May 2014, it was compulsory for employees to use the early conciliation procedures run by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) before they could lodge a tribunal claim.

“With employers facing fewer claims because fewer are being brought, the temptation is to take a more rigorous approach and avoid conciliation because they feel there is less pressure to settle matters.

“If tribunal fees are restricting an employee’s ability to bring a genuine claim, then it’s vital that action is taken so that unlawful practices in the workplace are rightly punished.”