Changes to employment tribunals come into effect
Changes to employment tribunals designed to save businesses £50m a year and make it easier for them to take on staff have now come into effect.
The Government says it has streamlined the system to reduce some of the burden on employers and reduce the number of vexatious claims.
The main changes are:
- The qualifying period for claiming unfair dismissal rises from one to two years
- Judges will be able to sit alone in unfair dismissal cases
- Witness statements can be provided in writing as opposed to the current rules where a witness reads their own statement out aloud
- The maximum level for costs awarded to businesses winning a vexatious tribunal claim will rise from £10,000 to £20,000. Deposit orders required by claimants when a judge determines that part of a claim is unmerited will increase from £500 to £1,000.
The Government says it will also publish the average value of awards and the time taken to reach a hearing. This will give both parties a greater understanding of what to expect from the tribunal process.
Ministers say the changes will provide direct net savings to businesses of £10m a year as well as wider benefits to employers of more than £40m a year.
Business secretary Vince Cable said: “For too long now the system in place for employment tribunals has been a bloated and bureaucratic obstacle for employers and the taxpayer. For employers they were finding that weak and vexatious cases were too much of the norm, too easy to bring forward, while for the taxpayer they were proving ever more expensive to run.
“We have seen claims drop in the last year and we want to see this continue as we introduce alternative measures in the coming months helping both parties resolve workplace disputes.”