To think this is unfair, unjust, pernicious and downright nasty.

(76 Posts)

As of Monday, the Government are changing the rules on bringing claims in employment tribunals. If you want to bring a claim it will cost you £250 just file the claim and then a further £950 to get it to a hearing, if it gets that far. The idea is that it will stop spurious claims, my argument is, by all means charge to stop spurious claims (the solicitors will stop most no hopers at the first hurdle anyway), but make it £50-£100 not £1200.

This effectively means pretty much anyone on a modest wage will not be able to afford the fees and their rights will just have gone out of the window. There will be some fees remission for people on benefits and low income but, only if your total household income does not exceed between £18,000 and £23,000 gross, yes folks, thats gross, pay.

We have already seen the qualifying period for employment rights moved from 1 year to 2 (which in fairness will help small businesses). However, these reforms effectively exclude anyone with a modest income from bringing a claim. What household in the country has £950 down the back of the sofa when one wage earner is out of work?

So, this opens the door to employers summarily deducting wages, sacking people without notice, bullying, unfairly dismissing, discriminating and maybe even a bit of sexual harrasment thrown in. Unless you can afford to pay £1200 in court fees (or qualify for the remission), there will be absolutely nothing you can do about it.

In September, we also get another pernicious piece of legislation which allows employers to offer shares in the company in return for the employee waiving their rights to unfair dismissal claims, redundancy pay and flexible working. The shares in the company are not voting shares and have no powers attached to them so are largely worthless. You can just imagine the conversation now "That's the terms, do you want the job or not".

These particular pieces of nastiness have been brought in because Adrian Beecroft wrote a report for the government saying the system needed to be balanced towards employers. This is the same man who owns Wonga.com and the same man who was taken to a tribunal by one of his employees when they had been treated appalingly. Oh yes, and this is the same man who made a very large donation to the Conservative Party shortly before being asked to write his report.

All this is nasty, mendacious and it absolutely stinks...rant over

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Thu 25-Jul-13 12:15:20

That's really very frightening.

arabesque Thu 25-Jul-13 12:16:35

Sounds totally undemocratic. I can understand not wanting to waste money or time on silly, frivolous claims but there has to be a fairer way than that.

arabesque Thu 25-Jul-13 12:18:16

Can you lobby one of your local representatives and get a question asked in Parliament?

No, this has all been done by statutory instument and Parliament hasnt had a say. Its just gone through on the nod of the Justice Secretary - a friend of Adrian Beecroft I believe.

I think the Unions are applying for a judicial review of this but there is no guarantee it will succeed.

The Labour Party seem to have been all but silent on it as well.

You can always write to Chris Grayling the Justice Secretary (A man who doesnt even have a GCSE in law) and tell him what a nasty man he is.

flatpackhamster Thu 25-Jul-13 12:26:26

That's wierd. You seem to be choosing to quote the higher of the 2 figures, the one for the type B claim rather than the type A claim. A type B claim would be for a complex claim such as unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, equal pay, discrimination and the like. Type A claims, which are much more common, have a much lower charge - £160 issue fee then £230 hearing fee.

Do you think that it's helpful to frighten people? Or do you have a political axe to grind?

People wanting actual information rather than panicky rumourmongering by political axe-grinders can find the employment tribunal rules here and the fees here.

flatpackhamster Thu 25-Jul-13 12:27:04

Your description of the decision as 'unfair' and 'nasty' makes you sound like a 6 year old, by the way.

LessMissAbs Thu 25-Jul-13 12:29:25

I agree with you. Its a huge jump to the sums mentioned, and a somewhat random one. The change in the qualifying period for many employment rights from one year to two is appalling too, and will encourage employers to sack good workers when they are approaching the two year period.

I do think employment law had swung too far in favour of employers and there were too many spurious claims, but the one year qualifying period could have been kept and the amounts for bringing a claim lowered.

There is also an issue about constantly changing laws, particularly in an area which affects to many such as employment rights. Employment law is constantly changed and tampered with, so how are the people who are affected by it (ie employees) meant to keep up with unless they are lawyers?

It gives the impression that the government wants to create the basis for a low wage economy where employees in theory have protection from employment rights but in practise daren't exercise them.

I'm not even convinced that the proposed legislation on waiver of employee rights for share options is not in breach of EU law. I would need to look into it in more detail but the UK would surely require an opt out of various pieces of European legislation that covered it, and there is a potential breach of completion law/abuse of a dominant position surely?

IslaValargeone Thu 25-Jul-13 12:30:58

'A man who doesn't even have a GCSE in law' Are you seriously using this as part of your argument?

This will also be dispropotionately impacting on women as women tend to be in lower paid jobs.

Oh, and another thing, when calculating whether people qualify for fee remission, it takes into account the number of children in the household to calculate disposable income...if...they are the children of the claimant. If the claimant is cohabiting and the children are their DPs, the children they are not counted even if they live there full time, and the household is deemed to have more disposable income so may not qualify for the fees.

I guess the assumption there is that an ex will be paying maintainance, and we all know that that is always the case dont we Mumsnet!

IslaValargeone Thu 25-Jul-13 12:32:15

Why on earth would an employer sack a good worker?

Darnley Thu 25-Jul-13 12:34:50

As the owner of a smallish business, I welcome anything that might make it easier to get rid of staff who are taking the P...

I accept that employees need protection from employers at times, but it has been weighted in favour of employees for far too long now. It has cost my company many thousands in legal fees to just be able to sack people and avoid spurious claims from them.

I know that this is a bit of a generalisation, but it is about time the small business owner was given a break.

Have hard hat at the ready...

LessMissAbs Thu 25-Jul-13 12:38:44

I don't think its scaremongering Flatpack. Its a huge change, and the types of claim affected are the most serious ones and likely to be the areas which most adversely affect employees who are not being treated fairly. They may be less common but that hardly makes them unworthy of mention! Its already very difficult to bring a discrimination or an equal pay claim for example. This helps put out of reach such a claim by very many people who will have a genuine grievance, because its just another obstacle in the way. Its a retrograde step.

Fifilostheplot No, this has all been done by statutory instrument and Parliament hasnt had a say. Its just gone through on the nod of the Justice Secretary - a friend of Adrian Beecroft I believe

I have an issue with the trend towards use of statutory instruments to make changes which should be debated as primary legislation. This isn't what SIs were designed for - such changes are not minor or administrative details but major changes. The excuse that its changing existing legislation is just that - there have been so many changes to employment legislation recently that it would probably be politically inexpedient to introduce yet another new act, but that would be the correct course of action.

WafflyVersatile Thu 25-Jul-13 12:40:00

No one should be charged anything to make their first claim, at the very least.

It's a very nasty government so no surprise at all.

Flatpack - I accept type A claims will be cheaper but it doesnt take away from the fact that the fees are disproportionate and would disbar anyone on a modest wage. Not pannicky rumour mongering, this goes live on Monday and is a fact

No not political (very far from it actually), can just see the ramifications and the potential this has to really affect even the modestly waged.

Isla - well he doesnt

arabesque Thu 25-Jul-13 12:43:55

Why on earth would an employer sack a good worker? [quote]

To hire someone at a lower salary;
To give the job to a relative;
Because of a personality clash;
Because they're pregnant.

Loads of reasons which is why employee rights legislation is needed.

LessMissAbs Thu 25-Jul-13 12:45:10

flatpack are you actually suggesting that people should not debate this momentous change in legislation, or have the temerity to question it?

Fifi You can always write to Chris Grayling the Justice Secretary (A man who doesnt even have a GCSE in law)

He has a degree in History and a career purely in the media before moving into politics. It is certainly accurate to say that we are not talking about some kind of legal genius here. His background is disappointing for one in such a position, and he is clearly a political appointment.

Darnley I agree with what you are saying, but these changes are too radical and not properly done and will affect those with genuine grievances too seriously. They don't sound that well thought out.

LessMissAbs Thu 25-Jul-13 12:48:26

Waffly No one should be charged anything to make their first claim, at the very least

Actually quite a good idea!

If there is a problem with spurious claims, this would tackle it. Or there could be an increasing scale of charges for each successive claim a person makes. These ideas don't seem to have been considered. I am sure there are many other sensible solutions. That's why I say it gives the impression of not being particularly well thought out.

arabesque Thu 25-Jul-13 12:49:19

'A man who doesn't even have a GCSE in law' Are you seriously using this as part of your argument? [Quote]

It's a perfectly valid argument and much more valid than arguing that an employer would never sack a good worker.

Darnley - I agree there needs to be balance (DH has a small business too) but this just goes far too far the other way.

LessMissAbs - Normally I would say Ministers should be drawn from all walks of life but the Justice Secretary is also the Lord Chancellor, a post in which an understanding of law has been a requirement for a few hundred years smile

flatpackhamster Thu 25-Jul-13 12:57:04

Fifilosttheplot

Flatpack - I accept type A claims will be cheaper but it doesnt take away from the fact that the fees are disproportionate and would disbar anyone on a modest wage.

But you didn't mention type A claims. At all. Or the fees. You just chose the highest figure you could find.

Not pannicky rumour mongering, this goes live on Monday and is a fact

No not political (very far from it actually), can just see the ramifications and the potential this has to really affect even the modestly waged.

Your post was deliberately confusing. You deliberately left out important information to make it seem scarier. How is that not panicky rumour mongering?

LessMissAbs

flatpack are you actually suggesting that people should not debate this momentous change in legislation, or have the temerity to question it?

I've just re-read my post and can't work out how you came to that conclusion.

Do you think that 'unfair' and 'nasty' are good ways to debate legislative change? Do you think that complaining that the justice secretary doesn't have a law degree is a valuable contribution and advances the debate?

I had the temerity to question the standard of the debate, rather than the debate itself - a clear distinction which I would hope a lawyer would be able to recognise. You being supposedly good with words and their meanings and all.

icetip Thu 25-Jul-13 13:01:05

Leave aside the op's hyperbole, this is a clumsy attempt to address some real issues of abuse of what was initially intended to be a simple, non-legalistic process. All parties would be better served if tribunals took a much more robust stance on serial and vexatious litigants, and they were given real teeth to award costs and ensure they are collected from those deemed to have abused the process - if they did there'd be no need for a fees system which ultimately will only deter those who genuinely can't afford to proceed or aren't supported by a union.

Flatpack - I think the difference between rumour and fact seems to have escaped you. Just to repeat - It goes live on Monday!! it is a fact!!

How is £380 for a type A any less scary than £1200 for a type B to someone on minimum wage who has just had their salary unfairly deducted by £350 by their employer?

icetip - I couldnt agree more

unlucky83 Thu 25-Jul-13 13:10:17

I kind of think that people who do make claims should have to invest something ...and if they 'win' they will get the £250 back...
I have experience of this - my partner had a small business (can't go into too much detail -and a long story anyway) someone who he had tried to help - I think the person involved was being influenced and thought the pay out would come from insurance or something (they saw me just before the summons arrived and came over to have a friendly chat - not mentioning it!!!). Also they were getting free legal help.
It was all a bit of a mess ...we arguably owed them a small amount of holiday pay (£75) but had paid them when they had not worked...they had 'left' a few times before leaving for good... the lesson I learned was follow employment law to the letter -never assume someone wouldn't take you to tribunal...put everything in writing...don't try to help someone.
For a month or so before the tribunal ...I had regular calls with ACAS negotiator -claim at one point was £30k , then £20k then £11k. Stress was immense (this could have sent the business under and made other people unemployed). It cost us £2k in legal advice - and this would have been £6-7k if we hadn't decided to represent ourselves in the tribunal. We wouldn't have been able to claim that back. I took the day off work and spent time and effort learning what would happen in the tribunal etc...
In the end the night before the tribunal they cried off - accepted £150 as full settlement.
Bumped into them a year or so afterwards -they were very friendly and it wasn't mentioned - and actually I don't really blame them - they had a pretty shit life and £30k would seem life changing and I guess they never realised just how much trauma and cost they had caused...
I agree with Darnley it is a nightmare...same business we had someone who didn't turn up a few times, then came in off their face on something, was rude to customers and made a fellow employee cry ...in theory we should have suspended them on full pay waiting for them to turn up for a hearing (and giving them a few chances to turn up before eventually being able to stop paying them and sack them ) ...luckily they walked out - so we could just send them a letter (with their outstanding holiday pay) saying we assumed they had resigned...

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