Employment Tribunal claims on steep decline, but Employers should not rest on their laurels….
By Linda Powell
The statistics for employment tribunals for the quarter April to June 2014 released today demonstrate that there has been a 70% decline in employment tribunal claims brought by employees when compared against the same quarter in 2013. Whilst this is wonderful news for employers who may feel a little more confident in the decisions they take in the HR arena because of the lower risk of employees bringing a claim, employers should not rest on their laurels.
Unison has brought proceedings against the Government to challenge the tribunal fees regime on the basis of European law. Unison argues that it makes it excessively difficult to enforce employment rights, and is discriminatory. There is also a separate challenge in the Scottish courts, which is stayed pending the English decision.
Although the case was initially rejected last year, the statistics released by the Ministry of Justice today will only strengthen Unison’s arguments, that employees are not able to access justice due to prohibitively high tribunal fees. The case has been appealed to the Court of Appeal and Unison is making an application to produce more evidence – highly likely to be the Ministry of Justices’ statistics. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is also asking for permission to join the proceedings, so they can make their arguments in relation to unfairness of the regime. Government is also keeping the regime under review, and the pressure is mounting as Labour announced that they would overhaul the system if they win at the next election.
Our view is that one way or another, employers are unlikely to see the current state of arrangements continuing. If the Court of Appeal agrees with Unison it is very likely that the law on the fee arrangements will be overturned, which means employers may see a rapid and meteoric rise in claims being brought in the Employment Tribunal again. It is certainly worth employers reviewing their legal insurance arrangements to ensure that they have cover in place to cover these eventualities. If you have any questions about tribunal fees or other HR matters, call the HR Insight team to discuss.