Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43
With the successful appeal by Unison, and the Supreme Court giving the government a severe kicking on the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees, it is worth considering how much the level of Employment Tribunal claims will rise and how vulnerable businesses are to employee legal claims.
It is worth considering the following:
1 The Fees Regime was oppressive - The fees regime was employment tribunal fees were introduced on 29 July 2013. – Fees started at around £160 to issue a type A claim (e.g. wage claims, breach of contract etc), and £250 for a type B claim (e.g. unfair dismissal, discrimination etc). There was also a further hearing fee of £230 for Type A and £950 for Type B claims. Appeals at the employment appeal tribunals also attracted a £400 lodging and £1,200 hearing fee. High fees if you are newly unemployed.
2 The Government was successful in eliminating claims and raising revenue- This fees regime was a revenue exercise/efficiency exercise designed to help the government increase money to the Treasury/reduce Tribunal workload and had the desired impact which was to lead a 70% drop in the number of cases taken to employment tribunals over the three and a half years post the introduction.
3) The Supreme Court rightly focused on the lowly paid - In its judgment the Court said the fall in claims when fees came in was “so sharp, so substantial and so sustained” that they could not reasonably be afforded by those on low to middle incomes. It also held that fees particularly out off the kind of ‘low-value’ claims generally brought by the most vulnerable workers. This is correct; My firm has had a some instructions from lowly paid workers entitled to bring a claim but cannot do so due to the fees introduction. This will change. There is now going to be spike in lowly paid workers bring employment tribunal claims and already I have clients with potential claims shifting their approach.
4) However, the 70% drop will not be fully regained. Unison can be very proud of itself for its success in obtaining the judgment on fees but my firm does not anticipate the previous number of employment tribunal claims being made. The reason has nothing to do with the fees regime but rather economics which are often a key barometer of the likelihood of employees suing. Generally(and yes I use this term loosely) individuals are more likely to sue their employers if they are confident they can get a job later. As long as the UK economy is uncertain people are less likely to take their employers on and risk having no job to go to.