New tribunal fees will make things fairer for all, says business leader

A Borders employers’ organisation hopes controversial new employment tribunal fees introduced last month will make things ‘fairer’ for bosses and workers alike.

Last week, retired local Unite union official, Rab Stewart, slammed the fees, introduced for the first time since tribunals were created in the 1960s, describing them as “anti-worker”.

“Workers will be charged one fee to bring a claim and another fee if a case is to be heard at an employment court,” stated Mr Stewart in a letter to The Southern.

“Claiming unfair dismissal will cost the sacked worker an initial £250 to have their claim lodged and a further £950 for their case to be heard.

“This is a charter for unscrupulous employers to get away with doing what they want to employees with no regard to employment laws.

“Seeking redress for unfair dismissal, discrimination and any other injustices in the workplace is a fundamental human right, but now we have ministers putting up insurmountable financial hurdles for working people in pursuit of natural justice.”

But not so, says Graham Bell, chairman of the Scottish Borders branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

“For some employees, an employment tribunal can be seen as a ‘no cost’ option. The FSB hopes the introduction of fees will curb the number of speculative claims, help reduce the perceived risk of taking on staff and provide a fairer balance both for small business employers and employees,” said Mr Bell, when asked for his views this week.

“To put this in context we have less than one per cent of our members even getting engaged in employment tribunals. Good employers look after their people. But just as employers aren’t all perfect neither are all employees. Fees deter vexatious claimants.

“Tribunals are not ‘free’ for employers – they cost considerable time and money. The Government’s intention seems to be to reduce the barriers to taking on staff thus increasing employment opportunities.