Tribunal Fees Abolished: Examining the Impact One Year On

By Alan Gregory | 2nd August 2018 | 9 min read

It’s been a little over a year since the changes to employment tribunals came into effect, which immediately saw a vast increase in the number of employers being taken to court for various discrepancies. As a result, it’s become overwhelmingly important for all businesses to accurately record all information and events regarding their staff. IRIS seeks to ensure that all UK business can maintain confidence and compliancy in an ever-changing environment.

What happened 12 months ago?

On the 26th of July 2017, UNISON won a landmark case against the UK government – the result of which was the abolishment of tribunal fees for all employees. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that “the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees” (UNISON, 2017) just over five years ago. The decision was the conclusion to a four-year fight by UNISON to overturn the government’s introduction of fees in 2013 and between July and September of 2017, shortly after the fees were scrapped, there was a “64% increase in single employment tribunal claims” (Wirehouse Employer Services, 2018).

So, what does this mean as an employer?

We have already seen a vast increase in employment tribunals since the change to legislation a year ago – however alongside these legitimate tribunal cases, there will be some which are unfounded. In the case of a tribunal, if the business cannot provide complete and accurate information supporting their lack of wrongdoing it will be looked upon unfavourably. A recent case in February 2018 saw a UK based SME receiving a default judgement and a court order to pay the claimant £46,206.45 for not providing an ET3 form within their extended time limit (GOV.UK, 2018).

A large number of UK businesses still either have no HR system in place or are storing all of their information in paper files, this leaves them exposed if an employment tribunal were to be raised against them – if there are no HR records available, the business cannot defend themselves. If everything is stored in manual files and on paper, it becomes a mammoth task for whoever manages HR within the business to collate all this information within the short timeframe for response.

Make sure you’ve got your own back.

IRIS HR is a comprehensive employee management system, which would become a valuable asset in the event of an employment tribunal. The software ensures that everything is date and time stamped and provides an audit trail which can be exported directly from the system, along with the following:

Employee Disciplinary Records

“Given that disciplinary action, especially if it leads to a dismissal, can lead to a tribunal situation, it's vital that employers can produce a proper paper trail that establishes the validity of their disciplinary procedures” (ACAS, 2013). IRIS HR enables you to store all of your disciplinary records in one place, allocated to the relevant employee, this therefore provides the invaluable paper trail that will allow your organisation to effectively defend themselves in the event of a tribunal court case.

Accident Records

“Any reportable death, injury, occupational disease or dangerous occurrence and all work-related injuries that result in a worker being away from work or unable to do their full range of normal duties for more than three consecutive days (not counting the day of the accident but including any weekends or other rest days)” (HSE, 2018). IRIS’ HR Software ensures all accidents can be thoroughly recorded and updated on the system, with the ability to export them should the need arise.


As an employer, you should ensure that you follow the correct process when it comes to appraisals, this involves keeping a full record of all documentation required both before, during and after the appraisal meeting has taken place – IRIS HR is able to keep all employee appraisal records in one place and enables you to identify any gaps or steps missed in your current processes.

Read and Accept

Read and Accept is a brilliant tool on the IRIS HR System that is as much about ensuring your employees are up to date with company policies as it is about protecting yourself and your organisation. When a new notification or policy is issued, once opened it prompts the user to ‘Read and Accept’ the document they have been given – therefore if they confirm they have done this however then say they never saw such a document, Read and Accept can prove otherwise, putting the responsibility on them and covering yourself in the process.

IRIS HR is an essential tool for any UK based organisation, regardless of size or status. With a wide range of functionalities and full UK legislative compliancy it can transform your current processes and provide peace of mind that you are able to provide required documentation if the event of an employment tribunal were to arrive.

See how HR Software can benefit you today – book your demo now.