Tribunal fees have been scrapped - so what?

You may have seen our earlier blog reporting that Employment Tribunal Fees have now been scrapped but you may be wondering, what impact is that likely to have?

What happens next?

As an employer, should you be bracing yourself for a flood of claims? Is it possible that the government will reintroduce fees but in a different form?

Fees introduced in 2013

The fees that were introduced in 2013 were intended to deter meritless claims but the evidence suggests that they may also have blocked access to justice for employees particularly if they were unable to afford the fees which could reach as much as £1,200 for a single claim.

As the introduction of the fees will have provided useful income for the state, we may find that the government may re-introduce some kind of fee structure under a full act of parliament at some point, particularly as the issue the Supreme court had was not the fees in principle but with higher fees being charged for different types of claim.

However, it is our view that in the current political climate the re-introduction of fees is unlikely.

And abolished

Now that the fees have been abolished it is possible that the level of claims may not just return to the 2012-13 level but could rise even further, especially if claims relating to events since 2013 can be brought retrospectively.

Employment laws have not changed significantly since 2013 but since then, the gig economy has grown and therefore the type of claims may become broader.

Also, some employers may have given a lower priority to employee relations expertise or reduced the amount of legal training they provide to their line managers since the fees were introduced as they may have perceived the risk of a claim being made as being reduced.

ACAS early conciliation scheme

The introduction of the ACAS early conciliation regime may avoid cases going to the tribunal.

If employers are faced with an issue with one of their employees that appears to be escalating they may want to consider a settlement agreement before the employee leaves the company.

If a claim should be filed, fully engaging in early conciliation can help the situation for both sides.

Reduce the risks

To reduce the risk of any claims being made against them, all businesses should ensure that their processes and procedures are based on the correct principles especially with regards to disciplinary and grievance matters.

They must also do what they can to be good employers and ensure that their line managers are properly trained and supported so that they follow the firmís procedures correctly.

It can be hard to prevent spurious claims and employers will have to manage the situation as and when it occurs.

Getting the correct legal advice at an early stage is essential for employers facing any claim whether or not they feel the employee has fair grounds.

Paying back fees

The new ruling on fees means that the government will be paying back fees to those that have paid them over the last four years.

This is one piece of good news for employers as, if they have been asked to pay a claimantís fees since 2013, then they may be able to claim them back.

Getting help

At Wallace Robinson & Morgan we have experienced employment lawyers who provide practical and expert advice to our clients who recognise that not understanding employment law can result in expensive mistakes.

We will also be publishing on our website, further blogs that offer a useful general guide to some of the most contentious areas of employment law legislation, such as Discrimination, TUPE, Flexible working, Religion, Parental Leave and Disciplinary and Grievance issues.

This type of general advice can be useful for an overview of the legislation but as individual circumstances vary so much, we would always advise our business clients to come to us for more specific advice at the earliest opportunity.

Similarly, if an employee feels that their employer is not following the correct procedures or that they have been unfairly treated at work, we can offer them practical and cost-effective advice which can help them resolve the issue often without the stress of going to a tribunal.

If you need any help with employment law issues do get in touch with Daniel Zakis at our Solihull office on 0121 705 7571.

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.