Tribunal fees on the scrap heap Don’t court trouble from your employees
Britain’s highest court, The Supreme Court has now ruled that the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced tribunal fees in 2013. As a result, the government will now have to repay up to £32 million to claimants dating back to 2013.
But what does this mean for your business?
Employment Tribunal fees were introduced in 2013 with the purpose of cutting the number of malicious and weak cases being brought to court, and to encourage earlier settlements. Since then, employees lodging tribunal cases have been asked to pay an up-front fee ranging between £390 and £1200 depending on the type of case.
The dramatic reduction which followed, with 79% fewer cases being brought to court, made it apparent that the fees themselves had become a “barrier to justice” for many who were unable to afford them. It was deemed particularly unfair for lower wage employees who were discouraged from launching tribunals even in justifiable cases.
Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis pointed out, “These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up”.
The end of tribunal fees may be good news for employees, but not for employers. What should we expect now? It may be that there will be an increase in the number of spurious claims being made by disgruntled employees who now have nothing to lose.
It is predicted that some form of fairer tribunal fee system will be re-introduced at some point, but this has not been published. In the meantime, the message to employers is BEWARE, you are now more exposed.
We recommend increased diligence in all HR matters, particularly when seeking to dismiss an employee, as there is currently no financial disincentive for lodging a grievance claim.
If you have any concerns about your vulnerability due to inadequate existing employment contracts or impending grievances, call us to discuss your concerns on 01756 790124.