We are delighted to announce that Watkins Solicitors are in the process of becoming a dementia-friendly law firm, starting in January 2018. We are now members of the South Gloucestershire and Bristol Dementia Action Alliance, and planning to extend this in Bath where we have recently opened a new office...
Employment news from the first month of the new Government
Fees for bringing an Employment Tribunal claim are here to stay
The Coalition Government introduced fees for submitting claims to the Employment Tribunal in July 2013. The total cost of bringing an employment tribunal is now either £390 (for simple claims) or £1,200 (for all other claims).
Recent statistics show that the number of new claims has levelled off at about 1,500 new claims every month (down from about 4,500 to 5,000 new claims per month before July 2013).
Many have questioned the disproportionate impact of fees. Recent research conducted by the University of Bristol concluded that many potential applicants are now “priced-out” of bringing an Employment Tribunal claim .
As a consequence of those concerns, a number of political parties promised a review of the fee system in their General Election manifestos.
The Government have now announced that they will be conducting a review into tribunal fees . And the Court of Appeal will shortly be looking at the issue of employment tribunal fees when it listens to arguments against fees to be made by UNISON.
But applications for remission are become easier
On the positive side, our experience is that the “remission” system is improving.
The “remission” system allows people on low incomes and/or certain benefits to bring a claim without having to pay the fee. Initially, the system was beset with difficulties and the Government’s own statistics revealed that only a quarter of applications made in 2013 were granted.
However, improvements have been made over the last year. We have found it easier to make successful, swift applications for our clients who could not otherwise fund the fee to bring a claim.
And some action on zero hour contracts
“Zero hour contracts” also proved a political hot potato during the General Election.
The new Conservative Government has taken some action in its first few weeks. It has brought legislation into effect which means that an employer cannot prevent a worker on a “zero hours contract” from seeking work from, and carrying out work for, other employers at the same time. In other words, “exclusivity clauses” in zero hours contracts are now banned.
But it is unlikely that there will be any political appetite for dealing with the ongoing issues of “zero hours contracts. Uncertainty continues around the “employment status” of those on zero hours contract. The courts and tribunals will be forced to deal with these issues.