Tribunal claims on the rise following abolition of fees

Has the number of outstanding employment tribunals increased in your workplace? If so, you’re far from alone… One year on since tribunal fees were abolished, their number has more than doubled according to official statistics from The Ministry of Justice – leaving many SMEs and in-house HR functions struggling to cope with the influx.

The second quarter of 2018 saw single case numbers rise by 130 percent, compared with the same period in 2017; furthermore, the total number of claims were up by 165 percent.

“Employees can now bring forward cases without incurring any cost to themselves,” explained Ellen Parkin MCIPD, Managing Director of Spire HR.

“As a result, companies which have a limited HR function are struggling to manage their mounting caseload – restricting their ability to work on positive employee interventions that are responsible for fuelling growth.”

In July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that tribunal fees – in some cases totalling as much as £1,200 per claim – were unlawful and unconstitutional. The sharp rise in claimants may also be a contributing factor towards the longer period it now takes for cases to be brought to justice.

“The longer it takes for a tribunal to conclude, the more stressful the process is for both the employee and employer,” observed Ellen.

“This can impact on not only productivity, but also the morale of the workplace – especially within SMEs, where teams are particularly close-knit.”

How to reduce employment tribunal costs

The ‘hidden cost’ of the increase in tribunal caseloads is often the time spent on paperwork; prolonged case management can put a considerable strain on administrative resources, which are (more often than not) limited at best.

Outsourcing your HR function or seeking expert tribunal support can, therefore, significantly reduce the backlog of cases that may be stifling your organisation.

“There are three main benefits to working with an outsourced HR function,” added Ellen.

“Firstly, it allows you to engage with a fully qualified HR Manager or Director without adding to your headcount and incurring an additional cost to your payroll.

‘Secondly, you can take a more proactive approach towards ensuring you have the correct systems and processes in place to manage employee grievances legally and effectively before they escalate to tribunal stage. This not only improves your company culture, but it also reduces the likelihood of rash decisions being taken that can potentially lead to time-consuming and costly tribunals.

‘Finally, bringing in the support of a HR Director at Board level can help accelerate growth, as having a People Strategy in place aids organisational development and transformation.”

To discuss Spire HR’s Employment Law support offering, telephone 01925 626253 or email info@spirehr.co.uk