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HR News Update – Plans to scrap tribunal fees would be "disastrous"

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High Performance Consultancy warns Labour’s abolition of tribunal fees will be a disaster for employers forced to foot the bill for false claims. Victoria Brown has warned that Labour’s plans to scrap Employment Tribunal fees could leave small and medium-sized employers exposed to the cost of malicious claims.

The managing director of Liverpool-based HR provider High Performance Consultancy was responding to a speech given in the city by Labour’s shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna earlier this week to the TUC Congress. In that speech he said a future Labour Government would reform the employment tribunals system to ensure that all workers have proper access to justice. Tribunal claims have fallen by 45 percent since fees – as much as £250 for a claim and £950 for a tribunal hearing  were introduced by the coalition last year. But for Brown, the abolition of fees could be disastrous for SMEs who are only slowly recovering from the deepest recession in living memory.

“Labour’s plans would be disastrous for businesses,” she said. “If fees are scrapped tribunals still need to be paid for. That bill is more than likely going to land on the door of the employer. The fee system has proved its worth. It discourages malicious and false complaints by challenging those making the allegations to pay towards proceedings. Without this layer, which forced complainants to consider whether their case has merit, the floodgates will open. Disgruntled employees will feel able to bring spurious, false cases to retaliate against their employer for any perceived slight. Even if they lose they know that the cost of the proceedings will fall on the employer and so in every way, business loses.”

“Introducing the fee system has encouraged employers and employees to find other, more constructive forms of conflict resolution. By maintaining a dialogue and airing their concerns in order to improve things, employees have been able to highlight concerns while keeping their job, and employers have been able to learn and improve the workplace without the trauma of costly tribunals and replacing staff.”

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