The Supreme Court has ruled that employment tribunal fees are unlawful, with the Government abolishing them with immediate effect.

As an employer, you should prepare for a surge in the number of employees making employment tribunal claims. Here’s why…

Employers are at risk

Since July 2013, if employees felt you treated them badly and wanted to make a claim, they had to pay fees of either £390 or £1200 (depending on the type of claim).

Many employees couldn’t afford it. Now, they can—and it doesn’t matter whether you actually treated them badly.

The Supreme Court ruled that fees block access to justice and are discriminatory against certain groups like women, who tend to earn less than men and are less likely to be able to afford the fee.

You could be due a refund

One piece of good news is that if you lost a claim since 2013 and had to reimburse your employee’s fees, you are due a refund.

But don’t expect it to happen straight away. This affects a lot of employers and is a complicated process, so it will be a long time before you see any of your money again.

What the ruling means in summary

  • Employees who feel treated badly by employers but could not afford to make a claim will no longer face a financial barrier.
  • Employees are more likely to take action for low value claims, such as unpaid wages of £100, because they won’t have to pay the £390 fee.
  • Employers using less than watertight procedures because employees would find the fees too expensive are now at great risk.
  • Expect more ‘have a go’ claims. Employees may take a chance on a weak case to get what they want from you.
  • The early conciliation system (where Acas tries to settle disputes before it becomes a claim) will continue to weed out some claims, but it can’t stop everything.
  • The ruling change applies to all fees and includes Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) fees, employer fees for review of a judgment and so on.

Overall, make sure your workplace decisions and practices are sound with no room for your staff to raise a complaint. To find out how, please contact us.