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Osborne announces Employment Law Reforms

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Chancellor George Osborne has announced two important changes, intended to reduce the number of employment tribunal claims and boost the economy. 

First, the qualifying period for unfair dismissal will be increased from one year to two years with effect from 1 April 2012.

Second, fees will be introduced for tribunal claims. From the (sketchy) information currently available, it appears the following fee structure will apply (note: this is all second-hand information, including from the Evening Standard; I have not seen the text of the speech):

  • upfront fee of £250 when lodging ET1;
  • further fee of £1,000 payable by Claimant when the hearing is listed;
  • higher fees if the claim is for over £30,000;
  • fee to be refunded if Claimant wins, and forfeited if they lose
  • fees to be waived for those with no money

The devil is always in the detail. If the test for a fee-waiver is simply being on income support, then most ex-employees will automatically qualify for the waiver (but those still in a job will not). Note that the issue fee of £250 (and hearing fee of £1,000) is substantially greater than the small claims issue fee.