Tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013, meaning anyone who wanted to bring their employer to tribunal would have to pay costs of up to £1,200, which Unison said meant some companies were able to escape punishment because people didn’t have the money to pursue a claim.
The government launched a consultation to review tribunal fees earlier this year, looking at whether or not the additional cost had deterred people with genuine claims.
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the union, which had argued that the fees of up to £1,200 discriminated against women and other groups of workers.
Unison said the decision means that employment tribunal fees will now be scrapped. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees four years ago.
The number of tribunals brought has plummeted by as much as 70 per cent since the fees came into force.
“Once fees are scrapped, it is likely that there will be a significant rise in the number of claims being brought,” said Paul McFarlane, chair of the Employment Lawyers Association’s legislative and policy committee and partner at Weightmans. “This will have knock-on implications for business, Acas and the employment tribunal system itself – all of whom will have to deal with the increased volume of claims.”
Whilst the introduction of Tribunal Fees reduced the amount of Tribunal Claims, compensation levels have continued to be significant.
Over the financial year 2014/15, there was a total of 219 discrimination cases where compensation was awarded, the maximum amount awarded (£557,039) was in a sexual discrimination case, while the average award was £23,478. The highest unfair dismissal award was £238,216 (average: £12,362), while the greatest amount awarded in an age discrimination case was £28,428 (average: £11,211). Personnel Today
5 Top Tips: Reducing Your Risks
Given the Supreme Court’s ruling and the cost implications for business with the expected increase in tribunal claims, doesn’t it make sense to proactively reduce the risk of ending up in an Employment Tribunal.
1. Upskilling line managers
Line managers take ownership of handling people issues if they have confidence in what they are doing. Coaching managers to handle difficult, sensitive conversations supported by tools and techniques enables managers to become more effective in resolving issues.
2. Nipping things in the bud
All too often cases that end up in an Employment Tribunal are the product of line managers avoiding the issue until it develops into workplace conflict.
Managers who are competent and capable communicators with good interpersonal awareness are much more likely to be able to spot issues at an early stage and in doing so nip them in the bud.
3. Proactive HR Advice and Guidance
Pre-emptive HR Advice that’s right first time, pragmatic and available in the moment will enable managers to become more capable and confident to handle people issues
4. Robust & legally Compliant Policies
Core and comprehensive policies and procedures that translate the employee relations process in a plain English, easy to follow format are much more likely to engage managers in compliance.
5. Clear and rigorous Grievance and Disciplinary processes
If workplace conflict does occur then employees and managers require a fair process that is compliant with the Acas code of practice supported by an easy to use and understand workflow and supported by expert HR Advice. Handled and managed fairly and impartially, effective Grievance and Disciplinary processes can help managers stay out of Tribunals.