The number of employment tribunal claims has dropped by 70% since the introduction of tribunal fees in July 2013, a report this week by the CIPD shows.
Since July 2013, people bringing claims must pay up to £1,200 in fees to bring the claim before a tribunal. This fee system was introduced to combat the number of weak and unsubstantiated claims and the cost to employers in having to defend them.
However such a significant reduction in the number of claims has surprised everyone. The CIPD describes it as a” staggering drop” and comments that “it must be the case that some perfectly valid claims have been discouraged as a result of the new fees. Fees may not make it impossible for claimants to pursue their case but they’ve certainly made it more difficult, which begs the question: are we putting too high a price on justice?”
It’s unlikely that the current fees regime, in its current shape and form, will survive for long after the General Election in May as all three major political parties have indicated that they intend to review it. The Business Secretary Vince Cable commented this week: “It’s vital that the employment tribunal system strikes the right balance between employee and employer protection.”
Alongside the reduction in the number of claims, the CIPD report shows that there has become a greater emphasis on tackling conflict within the workplace instead of resorting to the law, via:
· training line managers to handle ‘difficult conversations’ (47% of employers)
· facilitated discussions or troubleshooting by HR managers (38%).
· internal mediation by a trained member of staff (25%)
· external mediation (10%).
The Human Resource provides support and advice to small & medium businesses in all these techniques for conciliation and mediation, and if necessary we can provide you with a qualified workplace mediator.