Tribunal Fees abolished – what you need to do next?
Tribunal fees were introduced in 2013 in response to the high volume of Tribunal claims. Depending on the type of claim, employees were required to pay a fee ranging from £390 to £1,200. It is estimated that the number of Tribunal claims, since the fees were introduced have decreased more than 70%.
Unison, the Public Services union, has spent the last four years challenging the payment of fees, as they considered these to be a major deterrent to employees submitting Tribunal claims and the case recently was heard by the Supreme Court for a final decision. The Supreme Court unanimously declared that the payment of fees to be unlawful. This is seen to be a landmark decision and has far reaching consequences to the legal rights of employees, who now longer have to pay a fee to submit a Tribunal claim.
As well as the abolition of the fees, the Government will now have to potentially reimburse fees paid by claimants and estimates have assessed this figure to be as high as £32m.
What does it mean to you?
The abolition of fees means that there is now no longer a financial barrier for an employee who wishes to make a Tribunal claim. As a result, it is anticipated that the number of claims will increase.
Employers therefore need to consider what they need to do to minimise the risk of being taken to a Tribunal and they need to ensure that they have basic documentation and processes in place which clearly set out how they will deal with certain workplace issues. We would recommend that all employers ensure that:
- All legal documentation such as contracts of employment and policies and procedures are in line with current legislation and have been issued
- Policies and procedures are in place which lay down the required standards of behaviour and conduct in the workplace
- Clear procedures set out how they will manage disciplinary, grievances or appeals
- They take immediate steps to deal with an employee issues or concerns
- They treat all employees ‘without fear or favour’ by adopting fair and objective procedures for dealing with staff issues, to avoid any accusations of favouritism or discrimination.
- Ensure that they fully comply with their legal obligations for example paying the National Minimum Wage and all other statutory payments such as maternity, paternity, Statutory Sick Pay etc.
By introducing these measures you can limit your potential exposure to Tribunal claims. If you need help to ensure that you having everything in place to avoid such claims, then please contact our HR Advice team on 01455 444222 or fill in an enquiry form by clicking here and we will get in touch with you.