Did you know tribunal fees were abolished in July 2017 after London’s Supreme Court found them to be unlawful?
Following the ruling in July 2017, the Ministry of Justice took immediate steps to stop charging fees for tribunals, and put in place a fee refund scheme for claimants who had paid fees between 2013 and 2017, since the first introduction of such fees. Employers can also reclaim fees from the government.
What has happened since they were abolished?
Recently published statistics show the overall number of claims in England and Wales rose by 66 per cent in the first three months since their abolition.
(Source:https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/667449/tribunal-and-GRC-statistics-Q2-201718.pdf 14 December 2017)
Compared to the same period in 2016, multiple tribunal claims fell by 15 per cent. One possible reason for this decrease is that where employees had taken multiple claims or where they had grouped together with other colleagues to justify the cost they have now been able to pursue this on their own. This would also contribute to the increase in the overall number of claims.
Lord Chancellor David Lidington confirmed during a Justice Select Committee late last year that the government was still intending to charge a fee but it would need to be careful to ensure tribunals are accessible and affordable (Source: http://www2.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2017/10/26/lord-chancellor-confirms-he-wants-to-bring-back-tribunal-fees.aspx#comments)
So, what now?
The introduction of employment tribunal fees had the intended effect of dissuading employees from making claims, and their abolition has increased the number of claims again. So, what does this mean for employers?
These recently published statistics indicate that it is going to be important for employers to ensure their practices are up to scratch.
Tribunal fees might have given employers a false sense of security, enabling some to relax their management practices, since the fees were introduced on the assumption that employees wouldn't pay £1,200 to take their claims to the employment tribunal.
Do you need to review your policies and practices to ensure you are minimising the risk to your business?
There are many reasons why an employee might raise a grievance against you, so it is important that you have clearly set out policies, to help everyone understand what is expected of them in the workplace and how to deal with issues should they arise.
Are the procedures being followed closely to help resolve disputes in the best way for both the employee and the employer?
You could have the best policies in the world but if they are not followed consistently then they will not resolve the issues they are designed to address.
Are your line managers clear on their role?
Training and supporting your managers to manage staff well is important for them, the staff they manage and your business.
To discuss any of the issues raised in this article please do not hesitate to contact me on 07854917634