In 2013 the government introduced fees of up to £1,200 at employment tribunals, to cut the number of malicious and weak cases.
Over the past 3 years the number of cases dropped by 79%. However, on 26th July 2017, the Supreme Court, in the case of R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor (2017), unanimously found that fees imposed at Employment Tribunals and at Employment Appeal Tribunals, prevent access to justice and is unlawful.
As an immediate response, the government have ceased taking fees for employment tribunals and are in the process of reimbursing claimants dating back to 2013.
The number of employment tribunal claims are highly likely to increase, without the barrier of fees. This means that you as an employer are at greater risk of facing employment tribunal claims.
The impact on employers
Tribunal claims from employees with less than 2 years’ service have been relatively rare. However, the removal of fees means that employees may be more willing to make discrimination arguments despite their short service.
Employees may argue that they should be allowed to bring up historic claims that they could not afford to pursue at the time, since it has been decided that fees have always been unlawful. Although the Supreme Court did not discuss this area there will inevitably be cases on this that you should be cautious of.
Employees may also be less likely to accept a settlement at the early stages of a claim, if they believe they will receive more by going to a tribunal, now that fees have been abolished.
Employment practices liability insurance
Given the higher risk of employers facing employment tribunal claims, we want to remind you that we offer EPL insurance (as we are AXA approved HR Consultants), which ensures that provided you follow our advice, costs and awards any tribunal claim made against you would be covered under the insurance.
If you are interested in this service or need advice given the changes in tribunal fees, get in touch with us.