A Worcestershire employment lawyer has urged workers not to be discouraged from pursing their complaints after the introduction of new tribunal fees.
Employment expert Lisa Kemp has stepped in to ensure employees across the county are aware of their legal rights in light of the controversial tribunal fees being introduced last summer.
The fees were recently the subject of a Judicial Review which ruled that they are here to stay.
The Employment Tribunal fees, which are payable both when a claim is commenced and ahead of any subsequent hearing, were introduced last July.
The new-look charges start at £160 to issue an employee-led tribunal claim and £230 for a hearing. They, however, only apply to basic claims and for the majority of employment tribunals the issue fee is £250 with a hearing cost of £950.
“The employment law landscape has changed rapidly over the past 18 months and, perhaps unsurprisingly, we’ve found that many employees still aren’t fully aware of what options are available to them when it comes to their entitlements and raising a complaint against their employer.” said Miss Kemp, an assistant solicitor at mfg Solicitors.
“There were various reasons why fees for bringing a tribunal claim were introduced – with the main aim being to give financial savings for the government-led Employment Tribunal Service.
“But my view is that their introduction will also deter vexatious litigators and encourage parties to resolve matters between themselves at an early stage, with a tribunal a last resort.
“However, we are also mindful as a firm that the fees may deter genuine claimants with valid claims.”
To back up her claims, Miss Kemp has pointed towards statistics published by the Ministry of Justice which have revealed that complaints against employers have fallen as much as 55 per cent with a sharp drop between July and August 2013 – just weeks after the fees were introduced.
She added: “Looking at the data from the Ministry of Justice it is obvious that the fees and complex scale have put off claimants.
“We have actually seen a considerable rise in the number of Settlement Agreements being drafted. That indicates that parties are reaching a resolution between themselves rather than go to a stressful tribunal.
“Despite that, we feel it is important that workers should always take professional advice which can help negotiate or mediate to resolve a workplace dispute with their employer.
“It is always in everyone’s interests to avoid drawn out disputes, which are often costly as well as emotionally draining.”
Employees looking to discuss their situation further can contact Miss Kemp firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01905 610410.