As you may be aware there was a landmark ruling in July 2017 where the Supreme Court decided that employment tribunal fees were unlawful. The question for most businesses is what happens next and what does this mean for me?
Refunds all round!
Those who have brought a tribunal case since July 2013, when the fees were introduced, will have their money refunded. Trade union Unison, which brought the case to the country’s top court, has said this will amount to more than £27m.
Employers who have had to pay fees to a claimant following the loss of an employment tribunal case may be able to claim the cost of those fees back too (although this is less clear cut).
Unison’s argument partly hinged on the fees being introduced under a statutory instrument. This is a form of secondary legislation, as opposed to a piece of primary legislation such as an Act of Parliament.
It is likely that the Government will look to put in place a more proportionate replacement fee structure and it is possible that the Government’s next move might be to try and pass a statute for tribunal fees. However, at this stage it is impossible to say if or when this will happen.
Recently released figures revealed that the number of tribunal claims submitted had plummeted by as much as 70 per cent since the fees came into force.
Paul McFarlane, Chair of the Employment Lawyers’ Association’s Legislative and Policy Committee and Partner at Weightmans, states that “Once fees are scrapped, it is likely that there will be a significant rise in the number of claims being brought.” “This will have knock-on implications for business, Acas and the employment tribunal system itself – all of whom will have to deal with the increased volume of claims.”
What does this mean for businesses?
It is difficult to tell what the implications of scrapping the fees system for tribunal claims. However, it is almost certain that there will be an increase in tribunal claims. Employers therefore need to ensure they follow robust and fair processes when managing staff issues such as grievance, disciplinaries, redundancies etc.
For support and advice in managing employee issues please contact me on 07880 207483 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org