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Employment tribunal fees now in force

Workers who take employment disputes to court will have to pay fees under new legislation in place across the UK.

Workers will now pay between £160 to £250 to lodge a claim, while charges of £230 to £950 will apply if the case goes ahead to a tribunal hearing.

The fees are part of the Government's plan to encourage businesses and workers to settle disputes before requiring a full court hearing. It is hoped the fees will reduce the £74 million cost of running the current tribunal system.

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) welcomed the introduction of employment tribunal fees but said it did not foresee them working as a disincentive to bring about major changes in the system.

The FPB's chief executive, Phil Orford, said: "Escalating workplace disputes to the tribunal stage is too easy an option for many employees. The burden on the employee is limited whilst employers are not only defending the case in question, but also the reputation of their business. Hopefully the introduction of fees will make claimants think more carefully before resorting to litigation."

"Our members recognise that employment law is there to protect both the employee and the employer. But when weak and vexatious claims are being made against employers the system is being abused at considerable expense to small businesses employers; they do not have the time, resources or the money to defend vexatious claims and in many cases should not have to."

Trade unions meanwhile have criticised the new legislation, with the Trade Union Congress believing the reforms will deter unfair dismissal and discrimination victims from coming forward.