· 1 min read · Features

The employment tribunal system needs fixing, but fees take it to the extreme

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Employment tribunal claims should not be a lottery for disgruntled staff, but creating a system that favours the rich is inherently unfair.

Charging employees for justice does not prevent vexatious claims from occurring. All it does it prevent poor workers, those least able to defend themselves, from a course of redress if they have been treated harshly in the workplace.

Tribunal claims are one of the most contentious areas of employment law (see p10), as HR directors told us when we launched our Crush Complexity campaign last year. A solution needs to be found that is equally fair for both parties, and involving HR directors is key.

Under the employment tribunal fee system introduced by the coalition Government, issuing claims will attract fees of up to £250 and hearings could cost up to £950.

The aim is to remove the cost from the taxpayer (around £84 million) and place it in the hands of employees and employers. In theory, there's nothing wrong with that; in practice it means paying for justice.

Financial deterrents smack of an ideological solution to a workplace problem - stripping workers of their rights and shifting more power into the hands of employers, or those workers who can afford to pay.

That's not to say there isn't a problem.

According to the Ministry of Justice, 186,300 claims were accepted by employment tribunals in the year to March 2012, and 27% of these were withdrawn, with employers being forced to foot the legal bill for their defence.

Further, many employers settle out of court regardless of whether they are in the wrong because it is the least painful way out.

The system needs fixing. It used to be weighted too heavily in favour of employees, but now it has gone to the other extreme.

Why can't the Government introduce stiff penalties on claims that are unsuccessful rather than punishing anyone makes a claim?

Make those who consider taking advantage of the system think long and hard before they launch a claim, rather than placing a financial burden on everyone, including the most vulnerable.

Integrated reporting

Integrated reporting, the next evolution of corporate reporting, provides HR with a huge opportunity.

Our cover story shows that several of the key metrics that will form integrated reports are the domain of HR, but HR must provide metrics and analysis that stakeholders value.

Further, the function should play the role of weaving together functions and helping establish a culture of 'integrated thinking'.

The next phase of corporate reporting, which focuses on human and intellectual capital, should be an exciting time for HR.