As an experienced Employment lawyer I have learnt that the world of workplace disputes is like a pendulum. At times the odds seem stacked in favour of the employer and then the world changes and the employee appears on top.
There has been no question that over the last few years the employer was on top. The Government – it is usually the Government of the day – imposed a series of obstacle and restrictions that made it more difficult for employees to bring l claims.
The most significant obstacle for claimants was the decision of the Government in 2013 to force claimants to pay fees to file employment tribunal claims. Claimants were forced to pay charges ranging from £390 to £1,200 depending on the complexity of the case.
The impact was dramatic and immediate. In 2012-13 191,541 claims were issued. In 2016-17 that number had fallen to 88,476.
Well, that has now changed. Today the world has turned the pendulum has swung decisively towards the claimant.
Following a claim by Unison Britain’s top court the Supreme Court has declared the decision to impose fees on claimants as unlawful and what is more has ordered that all claimants who were forced to pay fees should get their money back! The estimated pay back is £27 million.
The Supreme Court ruled the fees order prevented access to justice and was discriminatory in that it hit protected groups such as women harder who found themselves the possible victims of discrimination but without the resources to do anything about it. It is such am a major game changing decision I attach the Judgment. uksc-2015-0233-judgment
The justification for the fee imposition was to protect businesses from bad claims but the Supreme Court has held that the impact went far further – preventing potentially good claimants from getting access to justice.
Will we see a return to the level of claims we had before the fees were imposed? Let’s see!