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Tribunal Claims Have Dropped; Don't Get Complacent!

Published 08 February 2017

There has been a huge fall in the number of cases going to employment tribunals but it should not mean that employers become complacent.

The drop in numbers has been attributed to tribunal fees of up to £1,200 introduced in 2013. (1)

An official review that looked at the impact of the charge revealed a 70 per cent reduction in the average number of claims brought to tribunal.

The drop in numbers was described as ‘sharp and substantial’ in a government review.

The fees have been controversial and have divided opinion.

The Unison trade union called the introduction of fees a ‘terrible decision’ and following publication of the review called for them to be scrapped immediately (2).

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said that while the tribunal fees may have discouraged some employees from lodging claims, it has not stopped them from doing so.

The MoJ is now in consultation looking at plans to provide support to people on lower incomes to help with the fees (3).

With the introduction of the tribunal fees it was hoped that the charge would help to prevent vexatious claims.

Anyone wanting to bring a case to tribunal has to notify the conciliation service Acas to see if the parties can reach an agreeable settlement beforehand (4).

Acas describe reaching a settlement through conciliation as quicker, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned than a tribunal hearing.

The fall in the number of cases going to tribunal should not lead employers to believe they can cut corners and get away with it. Correct procedures should always be followed and matters should be dealt with professionally and fairly.

However, this does not necessarily guarantee that you can always stop a tribunal claim. In such circumstances employers, despite the odds of making a good defence against a claim, should carefully consider all options to see if there are any potential benefits in settling a claim early.

Early Conciliation can be started by employers as well as individuals (5).

References:

1. Employment tribunals - how much will it cost to make a claim? - Citizens Advice [Internet]. [cited 2017 Feb 8]. Available from: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/problems-at-work/employment-tribunals-from-29-july-2013/what-will-it-cost-to-make-a-claim-to-an-employment-tribunal/employment-tribunals-how-much-will-it-cost-to-make-a-claim/

2. The government should admit employment tribunal fees were a mistake and scrap them | News, Press release | News [Internet]. UNISON National. 2017 [cited 2017 Feb 8]. Available from: https://www.unison.org.uk/news/press-release/2017/01/the-government-should-admit-employment-tribunal-fees-were-a-mistake-and-scrap-them-says-unison/

3. Review of the introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunals - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2017 Feb 8]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/review-of-the-introduction-of-fees-in-the-employment-tribunals

4. Early Conciliation - Workplace Dispute Service. 2015 Dec 6 [cited 2017 Feb 8]; Available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4028

5. Employer Page - Early Conciliation Notification Form [Internet]. [cited 2017 Feb 8]. Available from: https://ec.acas.org.uk/Submission/EmployerPage

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