Government announces Employment Law Reforms

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The government has announced various changes to the employment tribunal system, allegedly “to boost the economy”.

  • The qualifying period for bringing a claim for unfair dismissal (as has been trailed for some time) will increase from 1 year to two on 1 April 2012;
  • Fees for bringing a claim will be introduced for the first time, apparently these will be:
    • £250 for lodging an ET1 Claim Form at the Employment Tribunal
    • A further fee of £1,000 when the case is listed for trial (if the claim is for more than £30,000, higher fees will be charged, the details of which are not yet available)
    • If the Claimant is unable to pay owing to poverty, there will be systems in place to allow a waiver of the fees;All fees will be refunded to the successful claimant but forfeited by those who lose.

The details will be published in due course and will clarify much that remains unsaid. The definition of “poverty” will be crucial to the effect of the introduction of these fees. If it is a simple test based upon receipt of certain benefits, the vast majority of existing claimants would be covered. If however, it is on a more complicated basis, like the financial requirements for receipt of legal aid, that could severely reduce the number of claims being brought.