The UK Government wants to increase the length of time an employee has worked for a company before they can make a claim for unfair dismissal from one year to two.
This has led to criticism from the TUC who say it will cause confusion.
They believe it will actually lead to more discrimination claims and that the Tribunal Service will find it difficult to cope as they are already overstretched.
In their submission to the Government’s review of the Employment Tribunal system, the TUC also say that according to Government data, ethnic minorities, youngsters and female part time workers will be the worst affected by the plans.
They accept that it is important to speed up the process of tribunal claims but argue that making life harder for the most vulnerable and low paid workers is not the fairest way to go about it.
Changes will lead to ‘more discrimination claims’
Brendan Barber , General Secretary of the TUC said: “While everyone wants to see a quicker and more efficient Tribunal System, taking away people’s rights and pricing vulnerable workers out of the system is the worst possible way to achieve this.
“The proposals to restrict protection against unfair dismissal will not only hit young people and female part-time employees the hardest, but will also open the door to more discrimination claims, creating confusion for staff and employers alike.
According to a 2008 survey of Employment Tribunal Applicants, it will be the poorest who are hit the hardest. More than a third of tribunal claimants earned below £15,000 and nearly a quarter had a salary below the national average.
Justice should be for everyone not just those with deep pockets.
This sentiment is made all the more important because incredibly, the Government are also considering introducing fees for workers wishing to make a claim against their employers. It means that not only will the employees have to be subjected to the problems that led them to want to take a claim in the first place, they will also be taking a risk if they decide they want to stand up for themselves.
The most vulnerable will find it hard to make tribunal claims
This would certainly be likely to ease the load of the tribunal service, but what a horrible way to do so. Many people who have just become unemployed would not want to risk what money they do have taking on their employers in tribunal claims, so without legal aid may decide to cut their losses.
There would be no court case but the problem of discrimination would not be eradicated, just swept under the carpet. The TUC are worried that the impartiality of the Tribunal service could be undermined by the Government’s plans.
They say a better way to speed up the process would be to give more resources to the Tribunal system so they can extend ACAS’ pre-claim conciliation service and enforce multiple pay claims more effectively.
Mr Barber added: “There is no credible evidence to show that restricting access to justice actually helps our economy and it’s disappointing that ministers seem so keen to boost bad employment practices.
“If the Government is serious about improving the Tribunal System it should concentrate much more on encouraging disputes to be resolved before they get to court.”