Yesterday’s dramatic news from the Supreme Court regarding Employment Tribunal Fees is significant and businesses should take note of this recent announcement.
The successful appeal was brought by Unison claiming that the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeals Tribunals Fees Order 2013 (which led to a 70% reduction in claims) is unlawful.
“The Government is not above the law, but when ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work,” Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said.
Lord Reed noted that employment tribunals “are intended to provide a forum for the enforcement of employment rights by employees and workers, including the low paid, those who have recently lost their jobs and those who are vulnerable to long-term unemployment”.
The government introduced the fees in 2013 to deter those who wish to bring malicious and weak cases. Over the past four years, anyone in England, Scotland and Wales wanting to pursue a case against an employer has had to pay up to £1,200. However, due to the decision yesterday, the government are required to reimburse in excess of £27 million in fees paid to date.
What happens now?
• The judgment will have major implications for the legal system as well as businesses and Acas. It is likely that there will be an increase in tribunal claims.
• Refunds for those who have brought a case since July 2013. This is going to be a logistical headache for the government.
• New fees regime- it is unlikely that the fees will be abolished entirely. Fees at a lower level and/or a fee payable by the employer when they lodge their defence are likely to come in.
• What will happen to those people who chose not to bring a claim due to the fees? Will time be extended for them to lodge?
What should employers do?
• Consider and think about your approach to risk when dealing with employee disputes.
• Managing your staff will become more important to minimise tribunal claims and ensuring that you have the necessary policies and procedures in place.
If you are concerned about the impact it may have on your business and looking for support or interested in further information please get in touch. Our Employment Law team would be happy to discuss this issue with amongst other employment concerns. You can contact us on 0161 478 3800 or on [email protected]
This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.