On 26 July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that tribunal fees were unlawful and must be scrapped.
Trade Union Unison brought the case to court, and had previously lost at both the High Court and the Court of Appeal. In coming to its decision, the Supreme Court noted that “employment tribunals are intended to provide a forum for the enforcement of employment rights by employees and workers, including the low paid, those who have recently lost their jobs and those who are vulnerable to long-term unemployment”. They concluded that the fees were preventing access to justice.
What will happen next?
It is not clear yet whether fees will be scrapped entirely or replaced with a new set of fees. However, with a minority Government, the Conservative party may struggle to get this approved, given that both Labour and the Liberal Democrats vowed to scrap tribunal fees.
It is likely that the decision will lead to an increase in the number of tribunals
What will the effect be on schools?
When advising on potential options we always consider the risk of an employee taking a school to an employment tribunal. Since fees were introduced, this has always lowered the risk. However, with fees no longer applying, this risk will now be more apparent.
At Threesixty HR we always ensure that casework is managed appropriately and fairly, and we will always advise on any issues that may cause an employee to pursue a claim at an employment tribunal. This can then be taken into account in decision making.
Please rest assured that, although this will inevitably affect decision making moving forward, we will continue to work closely with you to ensure that casework is managed in such a way as to minimise any potential risk to you.
In addition, it may be worth looking at the current skills of your leadership team, and consider if they need any training in dealing with HR casework (disciplinary, promoting health at work, grievance, capability etc.) and having crucial/difficult conversations at work. These skills can often help to deal with an issue before it escalates, and can be crucial to minimising risk to your school.
If you have any queries about this subject, or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact us.