Warning for businesses as number of tribunal claims increase

22nd December 2017

Warning for businesses as number of tribunal claims increase

The number of employment tribunal cases has risen by two-thirds following the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap “illegal” fees for bringing a claim against an employer.

The number of cases brought between July and October 2017 increased to 7,042 from 4,241 in April to June, according to figures from the Ministry of Justice.

The Government introduced charges of up to £1,200 in 2013 in an attempt to reduce the number of what it described as malicious and weak cases. As a result, the number of claims plummeted by 79% over three years.

However, Unison challenged the decision in 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.

Campaigners who challenged the Government claimed the fees dissuaded thousands of people with genuine claims from taking legal action, purely because they could not afford the cost. However, the trend appears to have been reversed, with increasing numbers of disgruntled workers taking action.

Unison welcomed the recent rise in claims. Unison Legal Officer Shanta David said: “The rapid rise in employment tribunal claims since Unison’s victory in the Supreme Court clearly shows the restrictive impact of the fees. Thankfully, since our victory the cost barrier has been removed.”

Along with the increase in cases generally, claims for unlawful deductions from wages, which had virtually disappeared under the fees regime, are now resurfacing.

These increased from 549 in July 2017 to 2,926 in August, and 2,027 in September 2017.

What now for employers?

The rise in the number of cases should encourage all employers to revisit their policies and procedures to make sure they are up to date and compliant, and their managers trained on why they must follow them. Gotelee’s employment law solicitors can help you identify risk areas in your contracts, policies and procedures with their free audit. They regularly train managers on how to tackle difficult employment issues, and taking these steps will minimise your exposure to claims (and benefit your managers, too).

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 Andrew West or Marie Allen, Employment Partners, on 01473 298126 or email employment@gotelee.co.uk

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