An end to the regime which saw many people being “priced out of justice”
Unison have today won a landmark court victory, overturning the Government’s decision to impose Employment Tribunal Fees.
The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the Government acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when they introduced legal fees in 2013.
Currently, employees who wish to bring an employment tribunal claim, have to pay an initial fee of up to £250.00 to issue the claim and then a further hearing fee of up to £950.00 to bring their claim to a final conclusion.
Prior to 2013, it was free for employees to bring a claim in the employment tribunal and the introduction of fees saw a 70% drop in claims such as unfair dismissal, discrimination and unlawful deduction of wages. The ethos for bringing in a fee structure largely centred on reducing unscrupulous claims and whilst this objective was most likely achieved, it is strongly argued that it has also prevented many employees accessing justice.
Jay Bhayani, the Managing Director of Bhayani HR and Employment Law, has been an Employment Solicitor for over 25 years and firmly believes that for the last few years employees have been denied access to justice.
“We work with hundreds of businesses who are responsible and treat their employees fairly. When advising employees, we see countless examples of employees who are mistreated and denied justice. We consider that many employees have been priced out of justice.”
What happens next?
It is unlikely that the fees regime will be abolished entirely. It is likely that the Government will now issue a consultation paper and propose lower level fees and could even suggest introducing a fee for the employer to pay when the ET3 is lodged.
Any proposed changes will not take place overnight, as the Employment Tribunal Services will need to rewrite the tribunal rules and reconsider the online claims processing systems.
We also need to wait and see what will be decided in relation to refunding all fees paid between 2013 and now, as the Supreme Court has made it very clear that the fees paid were unlawful. This is a huge and complicated task to undertake.
It is also feasible that the Tribunal may consider claims out of time, on the basis that it was not reasonably practicable to bring a claim when the Claimant was significantly impeded from doing so by an unlawful fees regime.
Will Employers now see an increase in employment tribunal claims?
Whilst we are likely to see a rise in the number of Employment Tribunal Claims brought, we are confident here at Bhayani HR & Employment Law that our Watertight HR & Legal clients are well protected.
The businesses we work with will not be inundated with claims as, with our guidance and support, we ensure that they work responsibly, ethically and within the law and their employees are treated fairly.
The removal of tribunal fees is not something a responsible employer should be afraid of, but they should plan ahead and consider any high risk areas of their business.
Our Watertight HR & Legal package is perfect for all SME’s looking to ensure that they are operating within the law and that they are protected against employment tribunal claims. Our friendly and down to earth team will give you unlimited practical and easy to understand advice to help you manage your employees on a day to day basis.
Click here for more information on our Watertight Package or call us on 0114 3032300 for your no-obligation quote or for advice on any employment law issue.