The tribunal fee statistics released show a significant increase in the number of tribunal claims made since fees have been removed. Over the quarter, July to September 2017, there was a 64% increase in single claims compared to the same quarter in 2016.
The monthly breakdown in claim numbers clearly reveals the impact of removing the fee system. In July 2017, there were 1,358 single cases. Since the Supreme Court judged fees to be unlawful on 26th July 2017, there were 3,045 single claims made in August and 2,639 single claims made in September. It’s likely the significant increase in August is a result of claimants rushing to submit their claim before the time limit to do so was reached, or by those claimants whose claims are already out of time but will be seeking an extension of the time limit.
The increase in claims shows that it is now more important than ever that employers are operating their business in a fair, reasonable and lawful manner. There is no financial deterrent for employees, or ex-employees, who wish to make a claim so employers need to avoid placing themselves in a position where they could end up in front of a tribunal. Having the correct documentation, implementing transparent policies, following fair and reasonable processes will all help limit the risk of facing a tribunal claim.
Employers should also seek advice on the merits of a claim. The government intended to reduce the number of weak and spurious claims made by introducing fees. Now these are no longer payable, there may be an increase in the number of weak claims made from claimants who are looking to receive an early financial settlement. Conciliation will not look at the merits of a claim so employers need to correctly assess whether they will be successful at tribunal before making settlement decisions.