The Government is planning to introduce charges for issuing a claim in an Employment Tribunal which, hitherto, has been free of charge. The changes announced by Chancellor George Osborne at the Conservative Party Conference will come into force on 6th April 2012.
Whilst the extent of the fees are yet to be confirmed, the reported figures are £250.00 to lodge a claim and £1,000.00 for listing that claim for hearing. It appears, however, that a successful claim will see the Claimant getting their fees back. It is also proposed that the qualification period for unfair dismissal, currently one year of continuous employment, will be extended to two years. In other words, except in cases involving discrimination, an employee will have to show that he has worked for the employer for a continuous period of two years.
The fees which are payable to the Tribunal may be higher in cases where compensation is likely to exceed £30,000.00. The reasons for these changes are that the Government is concerned that some small businesses are being severely affected by vexatious claims and that the changes are likely to cut the number of all kinds of Employment Tribunal claims. The hope is that Claimants will think much harder before launching a claim in the first place.
Some years ago the qualifying period for unfair dismissal was three years of continuous employment. That was subsequently reduced to two and then to one in 1999. So, as of 6th April 2012 it will be going back to two years