The Supreme Court’s decision to rule that Employment Tribunal fees are ‘illegal’ and a barrier to justice will have significant consequences for employers.
Fees of up to £1,200, introduced by the Government in 2013 in an attempt to reduce the number of what it described as malicious and weak cases, were outlawed by Supreme Court Judges in July.
Now, the first effects of the ruling are being felt. Earlier this month, an ex-employee was granted an extension of time to pursue their out-of-date unfair dismissal claim on the basis that the original action was dropped due to the costs involved.
The claimant in the case of Dhami v Tesco Stores Ltd successfully argued that they had lodged their original claim within the three-month time limit but opted against proceeding because of the fees.
It is likely that many more out-of-date claims will emerge, meaning scores of employers may soon find themselves firefighting situations that they thought were closed. This is coupled with the likely increase in contemporaneous claims from disgruntled employees who no longer face the hurdle of hefty fees in bringing an action.
All of this means employers, more than ever, must focus on best practice and understand their responsibilities.
Gotelee’s employment law lawyer, Andrew West, said: “This is the time to identify any potential claims that may be made, and having reviewed the circumstances take steps to avoid such things recurring. Demonstrating a positive attitude to any Employment Tribunal will stand a business in good stead.
“It’s more important than ever to have a positive working environment, as well as complying with the many laws applying in the workplace. It’s good for business, as well as minimising the risk of claims.”
How can our employment law experts help you?
If you run a business and would like guidance on what the Supreme Court’s decision will mean for your organisation, Gotelee’s employment law solicitors can help.
We can help you understand your responsibilities and obligations to ensure you don’t face legal action from disgruntled staff.
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.
If you are facing a claim, we can work with you to maximise mediation efforts to resolve the matter swiftly. Alternatively, if, having investigated the claim and having tried to resolve the matter by conciliation, you find you have no case to answer, we can advise you on the best course of action.
It is also important that businesses make sure that their contracts and policies are up to date, as this can often help prevent problems developing into full-blown claims. That’s why we are offering a free audit to all employers, to help you identify where changes might need to be made to bring everything up to date.
To find out how Gotelee can help you, call Andrew West or Marie Allen, Employment Partners, on 01473 298126 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.