2017 saw the removal of Employment Tribunal fees – what’s the real impact of that decision?
Firstly, since it was ruled that fees in the Employment Tribunal are unlawful and were then abolished in July 2017, notifications to ACAS have increased by 500 per week. That’s a jump from 1700 to 2200 notifications per week to ACAS for early conciliation, the precursor stage which aims to resolve matters without having recourse to an Employment Tribunal.
There has also been a recent report which showed Employment Tribunal claims covering the period of October to December 2017 had increased by 90% when compared with the same quarter in 2016 – this information comes directly from the Ministry of Justice.
Another interesting statistic relates to claims for unlawful deductions from wages. These claims had virtually disappeared when the fees were in place but are now on the increase – from 549 in July 2017 to 2,926 in August, and 2,027 in September 2017.
First Official Figures
These are the first official figures that have been published since tribunal fees were abolished in July this year, following a Supreme Court ruling that said the Government was acting unlawfully to introduce them.
Although we’d need to see another quarter’s statistics before suggesting that this situation is now the norm, it is clear to see that attitudes have changed with the abolition of the fee structure.
So what does that mean?
Does this mean that every claim is a valid one now that there are no longer any financial barriers to a claimant lodging their claim or does it simply mean that employers are being forced to defend claims from vexatious claimants?
We suspect it’s a mixture of both, i.e. that more people are rightfully bringing claims now that there’s no financial implication to doing so but equally, the removal of tribunal fees means that any aggrieved employee, regardless of the merits of their claim, can feel free to lodge a claim.
For employers, this means making sure that you take advice in good time and acting on that professional advice to ensure that you keep the risk to a minimum and any claim that does arise can be easily defended.
For advice and guidance, please get in touch.