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NEW TRIBUNAL RULES COULD CAUSE CHAOS FOR EMPLOYERS

By Stephen Smith, Employment Lawyer

NEW fees which will deter claims to the Employment Tribunal are being welcomed by employers – but their implementation could cause problems for employers.

Rules have been introduced which mean all claimants have to  pay £160 for smaller claims or £250 for more complex ones, such as discrimination or unfair dismissal.

Payments of £230 and £950 also have to be made before a hearing takes place. It is expected that these fees will require to be paid either 21 days or 28 days before the hearing is due to take place.

But at the same time the Government has announced details of a remission scheme, which will allow claimants to make an application for the fee to be reduced or dispensed with entirely, depending on the claimant’s income, savings and benefits position.

While an application is being considered, the claim will remain in place. And even if an application under the scheme is rejected, claimants will be given more time to make a payment themselves instead.

Under the rules of the scheme the employers, or Respondents, will not be informed whether an application has been made under the scheme, and whether that has been successful or not. That will mean they will have to continue preparing for a case which may never go ahead.

They may also discover on the eve of a hearing, or on the day itself, that the claim has been rejected due to non-payment of the fee. Employers would then have to decide whether to continue with a claim for expenses against the claimant – which may require another hearing – or simply allow matters to drop.

The rules also allow “preliminary” hearings to go ahead before any fee has to be paid – which means employers will require to either attend these or engage a solicitor to represent them.

Previously known  as Case Management Discussions, these preliminary hearings are before an Employment Judge and if they fail to attend, employers risk decisions being  made without their knowledge.

*The Glasgow Law Practice advises employers and employees on claims under the new Tribunal rules. Contact ss@theglasgowlawpractice.co.uk