The abolition of Employee Tribunal fees has led to a spike in Tribunal claims by employees

Judge striking the mallet

According to the latest round of figures from HM Courts and Tribunal Services published today, the amount of employment tribunal single cases increased by 64%. Between July and September 2017 (when ET fees were declared unlawful), single claims increased from 4,200 claims per quarter to 7,042 claims.

Vikki Wiberg, Senior Counsel at the law firm Taylor Wessing, said the numbers were hard evidence that backed up the experiences of employers in recent months.

Wiberg says “Almost immediately following the Supreme Court’s abolition Employment Tribunal fees, we and many of our clients noticed a spike in claims. These statistics bear out the scale of this trend. Clearly, the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees had the intended effect of dissuading employees from making claims, and their abolition has widened access to justice again.”

She adds that employers could face serious reputational consequences if they became relaxed about their employment practices while fees were in place, especially because all Tribunal decisions are now available online.

“Tribunal fees might have given employers a false sense of security, enabling some to relax their management practices on the assumption that employees wouldn’t pay £1,200 to take their claims to the Employment Tribunal. Whilst this was not to be recommended, these statistics bear out how urgent it is for employers to get their house in order.”

“This rise in claims also coincides with the rollout of the online Tribunal judgement database at the start of 2017, meaning that companies are likely to face more public scrutiny of the way they treat their employees. If employers aren’t following best practice, they are more likely both to face a Tribunal claim and to have all the facts of that claim laid bare for the public to see.”

Though the rise in Tribunal fees was predictable, Wiberg says there is less certainty about where the level of claims will settle.

“One unanswered question is what the ‘new normal’ is. It will be interesting to see whether the next round of data in 2018 shows claims staying at this new level.”