Employment law and HR services firm Vista has launched a campaign urging the next government to introduce an “impunity threshold” for employment tribunals in time for this week’s General Election.
The impunity threshold would be a system by which a claimant can bring a case against an employer without being subject to fees, even if they lose. If however, the employment tribunal deems their claim to be either without evidential basis or in bad faith they would be liable for costs.
Managing Director of Vista, Darren Maw, said,
“As it stands employers, employees and those who represent them have been left in a stage of uncertainty with all political parties unsure about the future of policy on employment tribunal fees.
“A balance needs to be struck: employees should have open and fair access to justice on a level playing field no matter how large the organisation. However, there should be a strong deterrent and consequence for abuse of this right.
“What is needed is a practical and value based solution, striking the balance between access to justice and creating a climate that eradicates spurious claims. We are calling on Parliamentary candidates up and down the country to back our campaign.”
Vista believes the presence of this threshold would act as a deterrent against nuisance claims and would ensure that UK employees retain access to justice.
The issue of employment tribunal fees has caused contention between the parties. The Conservatives are clear that they are in favour of employment tribunal fees – which critics say could deny people access to justice – while Labour have placed themselves on the other side of the argument with plans to scrap them altogether – which critics say could lead to a free-for-all of spurious claims.
The Liberal Democrats have called for a review of the employment tribunal fees and Vince Cable announced in February 2015 he was conducting his own review through BIS. The Green Party have committed to reducing employment tribunal fees “so that tribunals are accessible to workers”.
According to the Employment Law Bar Association, there has been a 60 percent decline in the number of cases being heard since application costs of up to £1,200 were introduced in July 2013.
Statistics from the government show that the average number of claims per quarter in 2012/13 was 48,000, this was before the introduction of higher fees. However, the latest stats from the last quarter in 2014 show there were 18,943 at a time when the fees were at an all-time high.
Parliamentary candidates backing the campaign can add their support by emailing [email protected].