Employment Tribunal claims soar after fees axed

By Alan Gregory | 5th February 2019 | 15 min read

The number of Employment Tribunal claims has risen hugely since a landmark court case led to the scrapping of fees in summer 2017.

The large increase has emerged from recently released figures from The Ministry of Justice.

There was a 165% rise in the number of single claims and a 130% jump in the number of outstanding single claims for April to June 2018, compared to the same quarter in the previous year.

The figures were lower for July to September 2018, indicating a 31% rise in single claims received, while the number of outstanding single claims jumped by 77%, compared with the same period in 2017.

Meanwhile, the stats showed the average Award for Unfair Dismissal came in at £15,007 in 2017/18.

The highest average award was £30,698 for Disability Discrimination. Meanwhile, the lowest average award was Religious Discrimination cases, coming in at £5,100.

By September 2018, 20,045 refund payments had been completed.

What’s the background to fees?

The history behind this dates back to 2013, when Employment Tribunal Fees came into force. The government said fees would cut down on the number of weak and malicious cases brought against employers. However, it was opposed by unions who said it was unfair to employees with legitimate cases who lacked the financial resources to take their case to court.

During the three years that Employment Tribunal Fees were in place, they ‘prevented workers accessing justice’, UNISON claimed, with a 79% drop in tribunals brought against employers.

UNISON won a landmark Supreme Court victory in July 2017 against the government, which led to Employment Tribunal Fees being scrapped. The government also began the process of refunding claimants dating back to 2013.

What to consider before making a claim

Before putting forward a claim for an Employment Tribunal, employees need to establish what form of unlawful treatment they are filing against. Employees can claim against an employer, a potential employer, or a union.

Before an employee can make their claim, they will need to inform ACAS that they intend to make an Employment Tribunal claim. ACAS will then offer them the chance to settle the dispute outside of court, using their free Early Conciliation Service.

Claimants have three months, less one day, after the event occurred to put forward the relevant documentation.

What’s the procedure?

The procedure for submitting an Employment Tribunal is as follows:

Under ACAS’ Mandatory Early Conciliation, if a settlement is reached during this period, referred to as a COT3, the claim will be withdrawn.

If a settlement is not agreed upon during the Conciliation period, the claimant will present an ET1. If an employee is bringing a claim for Direct Discrimination, Harassment or Victimisation, the claimant is able to include individuals as named co-respondents alongside the employer.

The Employment Tribunal will then accept, or reject, the claim that has been submitted. The respondent will then present their ET3 and the grounds of their response to the Employment Tribunal within the 28-day time limit. The Employment Tribunal will accept or reject the respondent’s response.

From there, the case will enter the Sift Stage. If the claim is progressed to the Case Management stage, a preliminary hearing will be listed. Alternatively, the Employment Tribunal will identify issues, make orders and provide a timetable in respect of preparation for the final hearing.

The day then comes to attend court, where a judgement is made. As with any tribunal judgement, you are entitled to appeal. However, you can only appeal on a point of law.

How Can IRIS HR Help?

IRIS HR software can help greatly with maintaining legislative compliance, thanks to the following features:

  • ACAS approved letter templates
  • Read and Accept feature
  • Tracked disciplinary and appraisal procedures

What’s more, our new payroll and HR integration enables a full overview of all recorded interactions with employees, whether it be a payroll or a HR issue. Everything is available at the click of a button.

If you’re interested in finding out more about IRIS HR and how it can help to protect your business, you can call our friendly team on 0844 815 5700 or book a free demonstration here.