The introduction of fees for employment tribunals is a welcome step for businesses which should help shield them from spurious claims, it has been suggested.
According to the Forum of Private Business (FPB), employers across the UK continue to be affected by vexatious claims to tribunals, which often lead to costly legal fees and other harm for small firms.
The FPB says business owners are required to divert attention away from the day-to-day running of their company, while being taken to a tribunal acts as a disincentive to recruitment and growth.
As such, introducing fees should encourage more employees to seek mediation rather than heading straight to a tribunal, it believes.
From today, fees will apply for all cases and are set at two levels, depending on the type of claim being made.
All applicants will be required to pay an issue fee to raise a claim, and then potentially a hearing fee if the case is referred to a tribunal.
Phil Orford, chief executive of the FPB, said that escalating workplace disputes to the tribunal stage is "too easy an option" for many employees.
"The burden on the employee is limited, whilst employers are not only defending the case in question, but also the reputation of their business," he stated.
"Hopefully the introduction of fees will make claimants think more carefully before resorting to litigation."
Mr Orford noted that employment law is there to protect both the employee and the employer - but for too long, the balance has been wrong.
"When weak claims are being made against employers, the system is being abused at considerable expense to small businesses employers," he added.
"They do not have the time, resources, or the money to defend vexatious claims and in many cases should not have to."
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Posted by Sarah Parish