Will Tribunal Fees Survive any Coalition?
Attributing blame to his Conservative coalition partners, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary has suggested that it was a mistake to introduce fees to commence an employment tribunal claim.
In an interview with the Independent, Vince Cable has suggested that the fees his department introduced have deterred employees from bringing claims to the employment tribunals.
Supporting a pledge of the Labour party in its manifesto for the election, the Business Secretary is reported to have said that “There is enough evidence to suggest that this was a very bad move and should be reversed,” and that “It is highly suggestive that the fees are discouraging people – particularly low paid women — from pursuing their rights”. He went onto suggest that the “excellent early conciliation” reforms [whereby claimants have to contact ACAS before bringing a claim – although they have no need to engage in conciliation] have played a big role in reducing the number of claims brought to tribunals.
The Independent article implies (well, it incorrectly states) that the Business Secretary actually outlawed “exclusivity clauses” in zero hours contracts. The only problem with this assertion is that the law introduced – section 153 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 – doesn’t have an actual commencement date: exclusivity clauses have not been outlawed, only a law laid down that will need to be commenced by a future government. Until if or when a commencement order is made by a future government, exclusivity clauses have not been outlawed.
The trend of this interview is suggesting though that if another Con/Lib coalition follows, that there will be closer attention to matters such as employment law. It might not grab the headlines, but employment law will face change in the months & years to come, whatever the outcome of the election.