Unison, the Trade Union, had been campaigning for some time to have Employment Tribunal fees abolished, which was introduced by the Government in 2013. As a result of these fees, tribunal cases were down by over 70% as people looking to raise a claim had to pay a lodging fee to submit the papers and a further fee if the case went to tribunal. This would cost someone over £1100 to raise an unfair dismissal claim.
We’ve seen some of our clients adopt a riskier approach to some dismissals knowing the lodging fees were in their favour, and now that the Supreme Court ruled that Employment Tribunal fees regime is unlawful, fees have been abolished.
So, what does this mean for employers?
There’s a lot of scare stories out there, however, if you have good procedures in place, treat your staff fairly and consistently, the chances are you’ll have little to worry about.
If you are planning redundancies, then it’s more important than ever that you carry out genuine consultation, regardless of the number of posts you’re reducing. We know you may get impatient and want to do this quickly, however by spending a bit time doing a genuine consultation, with a robust paper trail, this will stand you in good stead should a claim be made.
The same applies if you’re paying off temporary workers. If you’re not paying off all your temps, you will need to have some criteria for retaining some and letting some go – things to consider are performance, attendance, timekeeping etc., however, be mindful of any discrimination related absences.
Documented performance discussions will also help as if that’s a factor, it can be quite subjective, but if you have documented performance discussions, that will help your case.
In the case of misconduct, make sure you have disciplinary procedures, that managers are trained on how to follow these, and that you follow a fair and thorough process when managing such cases. If you’re in any doubt, get some advice.
There’s likely to be a spike in claims, and you don’t want to be bogged down dealing with these cases. It’s better to spend the time now ensuring you have the right procedures in place but most importantly that these are followed.
If you’re a business that does pay off a lot of staff, either due to the seasonal nature of what you do, or the environment that you work in, then you may want to consider some form of Employment Tribunal insurance to give you peace of mind. There are a number of brokers who can help with this and we have a blog article that will help you make the right decision – I’ll put a link for you to read this.
As I said earlier, if you have good processes in place, you will have little to worry about, but there’s no harm getting an audit or review of your existing procedures to make sure you’re up to date.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
You can find out more about Employment Tribunal insurance here.