Employment Tribunal Fees Declared Unlawful - How Will This Affect You?

Lubna Laheria, Talbots Employment Solicitor, looks at the effect this may have on employers.

The tribunal rules have, since 2013, required issues fees of up to £250 and hearing fees of up to £950 to be paid by claimants who wish to pursue employment tribunal claims.

However, due to the fees regime, the number of tribunals claims brought had plummeted by as much as 70 per cent.

The trade union Unison argued that fees restricted access to justice and also argued that the regime indirectly discriminated against women, who were more likely to pursue discrimination claims than men. In fact, in the year after employment tribunal fees were introduced, sex discrimination claims fell by 67% and pregnancy discrimination claims by 37%.

So what happens now?

The immediate effect of the ruling is that tribunal fees are no longer payable. Those who have brought a case since July 2013, when the fees were introduced, will have their money refunded.

Employers who have had to pay fees to a claimant following the loss of an employment tribunal case may be able to claim the cost of those fees back too (although that is less clear cut). Unison has said that the repayment of fees are likely to amount to more than £27m. However, employees who were unable to bring claims due to the expense of fees will have lost their opportunity.

What does this mean for employers?

The ruling is likely to create an initial surge in employment tribunal claims as people who were put off by the fees will now consider making a claim, however, this is unlikely to lead to a dramatic increase in employers facing unmeritorious claims. The Supreme Court noted during its ruling that fees charged had little effect on deterring such claims.

Talbot’s advice is that as an employer, it is more important than ever to ensure your policies and practices are up to date.

Do all your employees have up to date employment contracts?

Do you have any on going disciplinaries or grievances or is an ex-employee threatening to make an employment tribunal claim?

If the answer is yes or you would just like to have your current contracts and policies reviewed, pease contact our specialist employment team on 01384 445885.

For full details read the Judgement here: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2015-0233-judgment.pdf