The number of employment tribunals has nearly doubled following the decision to scrap fees for bringing a claim against an employer, according to government data.
There were 8,173 claims brought between October and December 2017, up from 4,200 in the same period a year earlier.
Claims are now at their highest level since 2013, when fees of up to £1,200 were introduced by the Government in an attempt to reduce the number of what it described as malicious and weak cases.
Unison challenged that decision last July, claiming it was a barrier to those seeking justice for unfair dismissal, discrimination and other workplace issues – and 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 £33 million. As of 31 December, the Ministry of Justice has made 3,337 refunds, amounting to £2.7m.
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. Experts believe the employment tribunal system will require additional funding to cope with demand.
How can Gotelee help?
The increase in employment tribunal cases should serve as a timely reminder to employers of 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, Woodbridge and Melton 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]