Yesterday, as widely expected, the Government launched a consultation regarding reform of the Employment Tribunal system. Key proposals include increasing the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims from 1 year to 2 years, requiring all claims to be submitted to ACAS in the first instance for pre-claim conciliation and increasing the upper limits for deposit and expenses from £500 and £10,000 to £1,000 and £20,000 respectively.
One aspect of the consultation which has attracted our attention is the proposal to introduce a fee for lodging a claim with the Employment Tribunal. One media outlet has predicted that this could be as much as £500 per claim. If this were the case, based on the 236,000 tribunal claims raised last year, this would result in around £118 million flowing into the tribunal system.
Such a fee would also have a significant impact on "no win no fee" lawyers who routinely raise multiple claims on behalf of clients, many of which can be duplicate claims for tactical reasons.
As part of its announcement the Government also published its much-heralded 'Employer's Charter' which aims to dispel certain myths and sets out in clear terms what employers are entitled to do when managing staff. It is hoped this will correct what Business Secretary Vince Cable termed the "common misconception that employment protections are all one-way - towards the employee".
The consultation period ends on 20 April 2011.