Significant increase in employment tribunal claims since abolition of fees in June 2017

Significant increase in employment tribunal claims since abolition of fees in June 2017

The Government introduced employment tribunal fees in June 2013.  This meant that an individual making an application to the employment tribunal could end up paying as much as £1200 to have their claim heard.  This resulted in a dramatic decline in the number of employment tribunal claims, by up to 70%. 

The most significant decision in 2017 was the abolition of these fees resulting in individuals no longer having to pay a fee to bring an employment tribunal claim.  This decision was made by the Supreme Court on 26 July 2017 in the case R (on the application of Unison) v Lord Chancellor (2017).  It was ruled that the fees regime was unlawful from the outset as it had prevented access to justice.

Since this decision, the quarterly statistics published by the Ministry of Justice on 14 December 2017 showed that there has been a significant increase in the number of claims submitted to the employment tribunal.  This rise in employment tribunal claims will potentially keep increasing as there is now very little to deter disgruntled individuals from issuing an application to the employment tribunal.  Employers should be aware that whilst the removal of fees improves access to justice there may also be an increase in spurious claims. 

For employers, employment tribunal claims are costly, time consuming and can result in significant damage to their reputation.  With the removal of employment tribunal fees, it is pertinent that employers begin being proactive in people management and start putting in place steps to minimise the risk of being unsuccessful in tribunal. The employment tribunal is a free service and an individual can represent themselves if they wish and therefore there is little preventing an individual from issuing a claim.   

Here at Alsters Kelley we believe it is essential employers are proactive and take time now to invest some time and money in avoiding claims as much as possible or at least to maximise their chances of being successful if taken to an employment tribunal.

 Below are some helpful tips:

  1. It is essential that as an employer you have your contracts and policies/procedures clearly set out in writing.By placing such documents in writing and communicating them to the workforce you are more likely to avoid problems if everyone knows where they stand.
  2. If the contracts and policies/procedures were written some time ago then it is essential as an employer that you revisit them and ensure that they are up to date and legally compliant.It will be very difficult to fairly discipline and dismiss an individual if you don’t have any rules in place or they are out of date.
  3. You should train your managers and HR staff on how to implement the policies and procedures correctly and how and when to proactively nip any issues in the bud before they escalate.
  4. It is extremely important managers are making clear notes when issues occur and are keeping copies of paperwork for evidential purposes.Without a proper paper trail, it will be difficult for you as the employer to defend your position and show that you followed your procedures and made the correct decision.
  5. Time is of the essence and your managers should be dealing with any matters promptly and within a reasonable time period
  6. A thorough investigation of any issue is the starting point of any process and is key to the whole process.
  7. As an employer, you need to ensure that you are acting consistently in every case.

At Alsters Kelley we have an experienced employment law and HR team who can provide you with detailed advice and support on good practice and procedure.  We believe that it is essential that employers take advice at the outset and put in place processes to that will assist with avoiding litigation. 

The ways in which we can help you include:

  1. Reviewing and drafting your contracts of employment and policies/procedures to ensure that they are up to date and legally compliant.
  2. Training your managers on your policies and procedures and current employment legislation
  3. Assisting with mediation if an issue has arisen.
  4. Assisting with early conciliation if an individual has made an application to ACAS.
  5. Advising and assisting you with defending an employment tribunal claim.

For further advice or information please call Reyhana Koser, Employment Solicitor, on 01926 356022, or email to reyhana.koser@alsterskelley.com or alternatively, please complete the online enquiry form. 

 

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