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The impact of unlawful Employment Tribunal fees on business


Following today's ruling in the Supreme Court that fees for those bringing employment tribunal claims have been ruled unlawful, this could now mean that the government may now have to repay up to £32m to claimants.

But what does this mean for you or your business?

When the government introduced Employment Tribunal fees in 2013 it had an immediate and dramatic effect on the number of Tribunal claims lodged. In three years a 79% reduction in the volume of claims.

Some employers claimed that reduction was a necessary audit to reduce vexatious and claims that had no prospect of success and redressed the balance towards only appropriate claims going forward and had the safeguard of a fees remission system to allow access to justice for those in genuine financial need.

Not so said the Unions and employees who claimed the fees were an attempt to deny justice to millions of employees and workers who had been treated unfairly and unlawfully by their employers and challenged the government through the courts.

The Supreme Court has decided today that the imposition of tribunal fees was both unlawful and indirectly discriminatory.

What does this mean for business owners?

  • A substantial increase in the volume of claims is likely for employers to deal with as business risk and potential increased costs of funding representation and awards as well as the management time in dealing with claims.
  • More importantly an unrestricted non fee access to employees and workers to justice in upholding the legal rights of employees and workers particularly those who are the most vulnerable employees for exploitation outside the legal system and a retention of fairness
  • A large bill for the government in refunded tribunal fees already paid.

It represents a real and fundamental shift back to free access to justice for millions of employees and workers and may mean more claims going forward and justice for unlawful employment acts.

A major impact to both employees and workers and employers for the future.

It is unclear what the government will do regarding fees in the future and may introduce a new fees regime on a lower or different basis.

It is equally unclear what will happen to the claims that the unlawful fees regime prevented being brought. Will the Tribunals find it just and equitable to extend the time for bringing a claim or find another way to allow claims to be lodged and pursued or will they remain out of time?

There are a number of key implications from this decision that will need to be considered carefully and so the fees regime and the unlawful fees regime will still have important implications for all businesses going forward.

Contact our Employment Law solicitors in Bournemouth.For further information about protecting your business, contact employment law solicitor Peter Rolph or call 01202 294 566. Image courtesy of Wikimedia

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