The full impact of the decision to scrap fees for bringing employment tribunal claims is beginning to emerge after the Government revealed there has been a more than 100 per cent increase in cases since it was forced to axe the £1,200 charge.
The number of claims brought by a single employee grew by 118pc in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the year previous, according to the Ministry of Justice.
The surge in applications should act as a timely reminder to employers on the need to make sure their policies and procedures are up to date, and managers are fully trained on the importance of following them in order to reduce the risk of litigation.
There were 9,252 claims in the first quarter of 2018 – slightly fewer than the 13,500 submitted in the three months before fees of up to £1,200 were introduced by the Government in 2013 in an attempt to reduce the number of what it described as malicious and weak cases.
Unison challenged that decision in July 2017, claiming it was a barrier to those seeking justice for unfair dismissal, discrimination and other workplace issues. The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the Government had acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally.
The fees are likely to have dissuaded thousands of people with genuine claims from taking legal action because they were unable to afford the cost.
Immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Government announced a full refund scheme for anyone who paid a fee – expected to cost up to £33 million. Between October 2017 and March this year, £6.6m was refunded, covering 7,733 claims.
One consequence of the decision to abolish fees is that the subsequent deluge of claims means there is now a backlog of cases, delaying hearings and the processing of applications. The Judicial Appointments Commission is looking to recruit around 54 new employment judges to cope with demand.
How can Gotelee help?
For employers, the increase in employment tribunal cases emphasises the need for rigorous policies and procedures, which protect staff and insure against the threat of legal action.
At Gotelee, we can provide expert guidance so you know exactly where you stand. We can offer your business understanding, insight and practical legal advice to support and protect you whenever you’re faced with a problematic employment law situation. We also offer a specialist advice retainer, so that you have access to our specialist employment law solicitors, but can safely budget based on a fixed monthly fee.
Gotelee’s employment law solicitors can help you identify risk areas in your contracts, policies and procedures with a free audit. We regularly train managers on how to tackle difficult employment issues, and taking these steps will minimise your exposure to claims.
Our specialist solicitors in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe and Woodbridge act for businesses large and small in Suffolk, Essex and further afield and can guide you with a minimum of fuss and expense.
To find out how Gotelee can help you, call Marie Allen on 01473 298126 or email [email protected]