HR Alert: Employment tribunal claims soar a year on from ruling

SINGLE claims lodged at employment tribunals have more than doubled since the abolition of fees last summer.

The latest published Ministry of Justice statistics show a remarkable 118 per cent rise in claims. This rise can be attributed to the Supreme Court judgement of July 2017 that ruled tribunal fees be abolished. The fees were deemed to be unlawful and discriminatory against women, who were more statistically likely to have short-term employment and therefore required to pay fees.

Not only did the government immediately scrap fees, they initiated a full refund scheme for anyone who had paid a fee since they were introduced in July 2013. It was expected to cost around £33 million, although thus far actual monies refunded have been significantly less.

Anyone who feels that they have been unfairly treated in the workplace will have access to justice and the opportunity to make a claim with the power shifting from employers to employees. It does bring back the old argument that there is now nothing to deter “frequent flyers” to lodge claims against employers.

As a result of the increase in claims, outstanding caseloads increased by 89 per cent creating longer wait times for those who have lodged a claim.

So what does this mean for general practice? Practices should ensure that they have robust and fair HR processes in place with sufficient training for managers and staff kept up-to-date. All decision-making should be documented in case practices need to justify their actions.

Employees with two years’ service have more employment rights in terms of unfair dismissal. However, a discrimination claim can be made by the employee from the day they join the practice or even in fact a job applicant.

If you have any questions on this and what it may mean for your practice, please contact the employment law advisers on 0333 043 4444 or email advice@mddus.com