Have tribunal fees changed employer attitudes to employment issues?


The controversial introduction of tribunal fees has not affected employers' attitudes, according to attendees of a law firm's mock tribunal workshop. 

 Have tribunal fees changed employer attitudes to employment issues?


The controversial introduction of tribunal fees has not affected employers’ attitudes, according to attendees of a law firm’s mock tribunal workshop. 

The introduction of fees in July 2013 sparked a fierce debate, with claims that it reassures employers that they were ‘safe to discriminate’ as employees will be unable to bring tribunal claims without significant financial resources.

Delegates at Winckworth Sherwood’s seminar were clear this is not the case for them, as employers; their behaviour has not changed at all since the introduction of the fees. 

The interactive seminar, co-hosted with Buzzacott, was attended by 50 HR leaders from a variety of sectors including education, real estate, retail, housing, technology and finance and provides delegates with the knowledge to navigate the complex and confusing process of fair conduct dismissal.

Seminar chair Sue Kelly, a partner focusing on disputes arising at or around the end of employment, says, ‘Since the introduction of the fees, total tribunal claims have fallen by nearly 70 per cent and unfair dismissal claims by just over 70 per cent.

‘Despite this reduction, our delegates were clear it hasn’t impacted their behaviour as employers – for better or for worse.’

Winckworth Sherwood has run three day-long ‘mock tribunal’ sessions, seeing more than 100 HR professionals learn how to avoid a tribunal. The workshop includes document review and roleplay scenarios.

Kelly adds, ‘Trade union UNISON has challenged the lawfulness of the fees. Although they were unsuccessful in the Court of Appeal, they have applied to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal to them and so it is possible the fees with either be reformed or removed in the future. 

‘The government announced a review of employment tribunal fees back in June 2015, and its outcome is expected by the end of the year. However, regardless of the outcome, so long as employers follow the advice we provide, they will be well positioned to avoid tribunals altogether.’

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