The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has warned that the government’s plans to introduce a fee for workers to bring cases to an employment tribunal could lead to more staff disputes, the Telegraph has reported.
Andrew Wareing, chief operating officer at Acas, has suggested that the proposed plans could result in companies not bothering to resolve issues unless they knew the member of staff was “prepared to pay” to take the case to tribunal.
“One of the great uncertainties about how parties will react will come when fees are levied,” he told the Telegraph.
“Our prime focus is on what it will mean for our ability to resolve cases. If in future a person has to make a payment to make a claim, employers won’t be that interested in early mediation.”
Around 218,000 claims over discrimination in the workplace or other disputes were brought to employment tribunals in the year 2010-11, costing employers an average of Ã‚Â£4,000 to defend per case.
However, under the new reforms workers will have to pay a fee of up to Ã‚Â£1,750 to have their case heard, a sum that critics of the proposals fear will put employees off lodging a legitimate claim.
Meanwhile, moves to promote mediation as a means to resolve workplace disputes have been welcomed as a positive alternative to employment tribunals.
Paul Randolph, from the Civil Mediation Council (CMC), said: “It is most encouraging to see the government adopting such a pro-active approach to promoting the increased use of mediation in workplace disputes.
“Mediation presents a less costly, less stressful and more empowering way of tackling workplace disputes and the CMC are pleased that the government share this view.”
However, the Telegraph reports that the latest statistics from Acas reveal that only five per cent of employers have as yet used mediation to solve a workplace dispute.
“Workplaces need to move into the modern era of solving disputes by finding a common ground between both parties. There are no winners and losers,” Mr Wareing added.