A new Labour government would ditch the current employment tribunal system which imposes charges on people launching claims – after complaints that the fees have led to a decrease in cases.
Charges range from £160 to £250 to issue a claim and £230 to £950 for a tribunal hearing and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna says the fees are locking people out of the justice they are entitled to.
Addressing the Trade Union Congress in Liverpool, Mr Umunna said that if Labour was to be re-elected, the party would reform the system for both employers and staff.
“The current employment tribunal system is unfair, unsustainable and has resulted in prohibitive costs,” he said.
“Affordability should not be a barrier to workplace justice, but it would be a mistake to simply return to the system of the past, where tribunals were so slow that meaningful justice was not available.”
Since the fees were introduced the number of claims has fallen by 45 per cent.
“If we are elected, the next Labour government will abolish the current system, reform the employment tribunals and put in place a new system which ensures all workers have proper access to justice,” he added.
Yet business leaders have said that while the current system could be improved, changing it entirely would be a mistake.
Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills policy at business lobby group the CBI, said:
“Recent reforms which encourage early resolution of disputes are a step in the right direction, and fees to make a claim are a vital part of that.
“Fees should not remove access to justice for those with legitimate claims, so a review of the level set is something businesses could support.”