The landscape changes with an overhaul of Employment Tribunal Fees

Employment tribunal fees will be scrapped after UNISON won a landmark court victory against the government in the case of Unison v The Lord Chancellor on 26th July 2017.  Experts are suggesting that UK employers can expect a hike in employment tribunal fees …….. and that could be up to 70%!

The Supreme Court has ruled that the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees four years ago, basing its decision on the fact that fees were “inconsistent with access to justice” and had resulted in a substantial fall in the number of claims being brought.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady said: “This is a massive win for working people. Too many low-paid workers couldn’t afford to uphold their rights at work, even when they have faced harassment or have been sacked unfairly”.

Business leaders however expressed concern about the court ruling believing the judgement “opens the door to a spike in malicious or vexatious claims”. Employers are concerned about a return to the past, when despite winning the majority of cases, companies would often settle to avoid a costly and protracted process even when their case was strong.

Whats our take on it? Well, whilst there will no doubt be an increase in claims against employers, (remember there is no barrier to making a claim now) whether the increase proves to be as worrying as 70% remains to be seen. 

Defending a claim in the employment tribunal is always going to be a gamble for an employer as employment legislation is based on civil law; that is, here is no "proof" required.  That side of the coin will not change. Defending a claim often comes down to credibility between the parties, but where an employer can show that they have acted reasonably in all of the circumstances (when dismissing that is,!) whether or not the employee has paid for their right to be there will make no difference to the outcome of the claim.  

Documenting matters and acting reasonably is what we do.  We say employers do not need to sweat, its business as usual !