It has been no shock to those who work within the world of HR and Employment Law that following the quashing of employment tribunal fees in 2017, the amount of employment claims has seen a significant increase.
You might recall that in July 2013, the government introduced fees to try to reduce the burden on the tribunal system and to try to eliminate spurious claims. However, Unite successfully overturned this decision with a legal challenge going all the way to the Supreme Court and as a result the government were ordered to reverse the decision and reimburse those fees that had been paid by claimants.
We are now starting to hear the rumblings of a change in the system and the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has recently stated that the introduction of a new fee system is likely. A system that is progressive and that recognises an individual’s ability to pay.
If passed, this could help reduce malicious or unfounded employment tribunals from consuming valuable time and resources from an already strained tribunal system and also give employers some peace of mind that they wouldn’t face penalties when they have rightfully dismissed an employee and followed the correct procedures.
It is worth noting that nothing has been confirmed officially and he does go on to say that there are no immediate plans to introduce one, therefore the current trend of rising levels of employment claims is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. In fact the MOJ have recently launched a recruitment drive, to bring in 54 judges to help clear the backlog of cases that are stacking up.
The reality is that although this isn’t the last we will hear about tribunal fees, we may find that the changes are only implemented alongside a re-haul or reworking of the tribunal system as a whole and the likelihood of this happening in the near future is slim.
With that in mind, there are some practical things that companies can do, including offering the right of appeal in all cases of dismissal, which can help decrease the likelihood of facing an employment tribunal and ensure that they are following the ACAS code of conduct when it comes to their disciplinary procedures. Ultimately, taking professional advice when can help work out the best way to deal with things and reduce the risks from employment claims.
Here at ProAktive we have seen first hand how our clients are receiving unprecedented levels of ACAS contact and therefore if you have any employment queries please don’t hesitate to contact our HR Consultancy Team on 01302 341 344.