Supreme Court abolishes tribunal fees
You have probably heard the latest judgement from the Supreme Court about employment tribunal fees, we wanted to give you a little more detail about how it will impact your business.
You may recall that since 2013, employees have had to pay a fee of up to £1,200 to take their employer to a tribunal. This led to a drop of around 70% in the number of claims, enabling some employers to take a robust approach to employee relations because of the heavily reduced risk of a claim.
The Supreme Court has now ruled these tribunal fees were unlawful, on the grounds that when parliament confers employment rights on individuals, the Lord Chancellor cannot effectively take them away by introducing prohibitively high fees. All fees paid by employees between 2013 and now will be refunded by the government.
Where does this leave you?
First, it is unlikely that fees will disappear entirely. It is likely that the government will probably bring in a different fees regime, with lower fees and possibly with employers contributing to the cost at the outset. But no details are currently available – as soon as more information does become available, we will, let you know.
Second, any employees who might have brought claims between 2013 and 2017, but who were put off by the fees, can now seek permission to bring them 'out of time'. This will be easier with discrimination cases than unfair dismissal cases, but there will inevitably be a large number of such cases brought by ex-employees.
It is uncertain as to the true impact of this judgement on cases which have been heard and those which were not presented to an Employment Tribunal because of the fee structure.
Our advice is that if you are approached by an ex-employee is that they will still have to contact ACAS and follow the early conciliation procedure.
In the event that you get a call from ACAS, you should take all the relevant information and pass this on to us and we can advise you further as to what steps to take.
As with any Supreme Court judgements, it does take time to consider the full ramifications of any judgement and any implications for employers and as always, we will keep you informed of any developments.