27th July 2017
Employment Tribunal Fees Ruled Unlawful
What has happened?
Four years after their controversial introduction, on 26th July 2017 the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the requirements for employees to pay fees to use the employment tribunal system was unlawful and unconstitutional.
Since 2013, anyone wishing to bring a claim against their employer or former employer have been required to pay an issue fee, the amount of which is dependent on the complexity of the claim. Further, if the matter were to proceed to a hearing, an additional fee is payable.
The rationale was that the fee structure would cut the number of malicious and weak cases, with statistics showing that 79% fewer cases were brought over the three years immediately after the fee system was introduced.
The union UNISON challenged the fee regime, arguing that it prevented workers accessing justice, and highlighted the significant reduction in claims as an indicator of the reluctance from many to pursue claims.
As there is no right of appeal from the Supreme Court, unless the Government attempts to legislate further, employees will no longer have to pay to submit a claim or proceed to a hearing. It is also estimated that some £27 million will have to be refunded to those who have paid fees in the past.
What does this mean for employers?
This ruling does of course reduce the barriers for claims to be submitted and so there is a perceived higher risk to businesses of being placed under scrutiny. ACAS conciliation will continue to form a mandatory part of pre-claim conduct however, as this has also contributed to the reduction in litigation.
In reality, business remains as normal for companies in the UK and the advice delivered by employment law solicitors and consultancies will continue to be provided in the same vein as ever.
It is still important to ensure that employment law is being adhered to and that best practise is being followed.
By having strong in house Human Resource procedures, employers naturally reduce their exposure to scrutiny from current or former employees.
It is important to ensure that the relevant contracts of employment and employee handbooks are in place, and that employees are treated fairly in any correspondence that they may have with their employers.
Lighthouse Employment Law consultancy support
For those that subscribe to the Lighthouse Employment Law support service, it is important that you continue to liaise with your solicitor to ensure that best practise is being followed.
Should you be in a situation of uncertainty regarding a personnel issue, consultation with your solicitor could be vital in achieving the best for all parties.
Furthermore, Lighthouse can provide our retained customers with access to an insurance policy which will provide indemnity for any defence costs and rewards associated with an employment tribunal claim. For more information please contact the office on 0845 459 1724 (option 1).
If you do not currently subscribe, and are interested in having access to Lighthouse Employment Law support services, please contact Gwyn Evans, Partner at Lighthouse at email@example.com, or on 07889 804 999.