Tribunal fees now unlawful – why it matters

The Supreme Court has now ruled that Employment Tribunal fees are now unlawful. It has a major implication for small employers and the economy as a whole.

Fees were introduced to reduce the number of frivolous and vexatious claims, for which they were very successful. Now, how ever fair and reasonable a dismissal might be, there will be no barrier to a dismissed employee “having a go”. And it matters.

A typical Tribunal claim costs £5,000 to £10,000 in legal fees to defend but in economic terms that is the tip of the iceberg. Hours of precious executive time will now be taken up in defending a claim. Even more management time will be taken up dotting ‘I’s and crossing ‘t’s in the most straightforward of cases. Those needs will apply to all dismissals and certainly not just those where the employer might be vulnerable. Indeed every dismissal is now vulnerable to a claim, even those where the employee apparently leaves amicably.

Small businesses, where most people are employed, will now face a further onslaught on their ability to work productively. It means that businesses will find it difficult to realise their business objectives if they are continually stopping to defend spurious Tribunal claims.

Who gains? The legal profession who can expect a doubling, or even trebling of claims. Also Unison who will be able to grow their business. Less willingly, employer support bodies such as Employer Solutions who will be there to help employers dot those ‘i’s and cross those ‘t’s !

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