A leading employment law specialist, Peninsula, predicts a massive surge in employment tribunal claims following a landmark ruling yesterday by the Supreme Court, with Claimants now having an opportunity to pursue a fee-free claim.
Upholding a challenge by Unison, the Supreme Court concluded that employment tribunal fees were discriminatory and ruled that the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees in 2013.
As the UK’s leading employment law advisory firm, with more than 35,000 clients from the SME sector, Peninsula has detailed data in this area and has seen a 75 per cent drop in the number of employment tribunals it has handled since the introduction of the fees. This mirrors government statistics which show a 79 per cent drop in such cases.
The introduction of fees has clearly served to deter many people from pursuing this course of action, whether their cases were legitimate or spurious. Peninsula is gearing up for a huge dam burst in the number of tribunal applications over the next few weeks, following the Supreme Court ruling.
There are two reasons for this; firstly, as the financial impediment of up to £1,200 in tribunal fees has now been removed and individuals have nothing to lose by taking their former employer to tribunal.
Secondly, given the three month time limit from the day of dismissal to pursue an employment tribunal claim, any employee dismissed within the last three months may now decide whether to pursue this course of action, adding to the potential surge in the number of tribunal applications.
James Potts, Head of Legal at Peninsula, said: “At Peninsula we anticipate the number of tribunal applications will climb back up to historic levels over the next few months, without the impediment of fees, following the dramatic drop we have seen since their introduction. In particular, we expect a real rush in the number of applications over the next few weeks, as many people who fall within the ‘three month time limit’ now seek to get their applications in urgently.”
Mr Potts added; "It is essential employers seek the right advice if they find themselves taken to tribunal but prevention is better than cure – by implementing the right systems, procedures and practices, businesses can reduce their vulnerability to a claim and can be confident they have nothing to fear if they are; at Peninsula that’s what we do day in, day out for our Members. We’re predicting a very busy time ahead for employers and for those who advise them in this area.”