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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Employment Justice - Political Ping Pong

In his speech at the Conservative Party Conference the Chancellor George Osborne announced a number of measures designed to make it more difficult for workers to take their cases to a Tribunal. The first was to extend the employment requirement. You now have to work somewhere for 2 years before you can bring a claim for Unfair Dismissal. This has been a case of political ping pong over the years. Under the Wilson/Callaghan governments it was 6 months. Thatcher upped it to 2 years. Blair dropped it to 1 year. Cameron now ups it to 2 again. I suppose that was to be expected. It is more worrying that prohibitive fees are to be introduced from April 2013. £100 - 200 to bring a claim and £1000 on top if a case goes to a hearing. This will cover all proceedings. This is not by any stretch of the imagination an encouragement to small businesses to employ people. The same rule will apply if a multi-national unfairly sacks or discrminates against a worker. It is already difficult to pursue employment claims. There has never been public funding for advocacy. There is no right to recover costs if you win - apart from in extreme cases. This further obstacle is bound to lead to a massive reduction in claims regardless of the merits. In the last few months we have been told of cuts in public funding, attacks on conditional fees and now this. You have to like a challenge to be a lawyer these days.

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