This morning’s anticipated landmark ruling by the Supreme Court has ordered the Government to repay up to £32 million to Claimants after finding that the introduction of Employment Tribunal Fees in 2013 was illegal.

In addition to finding that the Government had acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally in the changes made in 2013, it was found that the implementation of fees to bring an Employment Tribunal claim was “indirectly discriminatory to women”.

It cost the employee pursuing allegations around issues such as unfair dismissal, discrimination and other work-related complaints between £390 and £1,200 to bring a claim against an employer. The resulting 79% drop in claims that were brought in the 3 years preceding today’s judgment was argued by the trade union UNISON to be “unfair” and allowed “law breaking bosses off the hook”, leaving “badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up”.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “Too many low-paid workers couldn’t afford to uphold their rights at work, even when they’ve faced harassment or have been sacked unfairly”.

While opinion upon the ruling is divided between employees and employers, it does reiterate the imperative that all businesses (employing anywhere between a solitary employee to large corporations employing thousands) ensure they have proper HR policies and procedures, and contracts of employment in place – and that these are not only understood by those applying them, but are actually followed.

Key issues historically revolve around discrimination, health and safety, redundancy and grievances and the consequences of either not having an adequate policy in place and/or not following a policy that does exist. These can have catastrophic consequences to an employer.

Our Employment team provides assistance to employers in ensuring their systems are effective and robust in order to minimise the risks of a potential claim arising, while also supporting employees in pursuing claims when things have gone wrong.

If you are an employee looking to investigate and pursue a grievance or settlement agreement, or an employer reviewing and drafting key policies and employment contracts, please contact us to make an appointment.

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