You may see an increase in Employment Tribunal cases during 2018…

Posted on: 18th Jan 2018 by: Dêmos HR Solutions

In 2017, the UK Supreme Court abolished Employment Tribunal fees, which, after they were originally introduced back in 2013, saw a fall in claims of more than 70 per cent. As the figures so clearly showed, the Government felt the fees were preventing access to justice and thus being unlawful, they scrapped the fees. As a result, it’s likely that the number of claims is going to dramatically increase during 2018, but what type of cases can you expect as an employer?

Equal pay discrepancies still in the news

A hot topic in the press of late is equal pay, with the most recent focus being on the BBC’s China Editor, Carrie Gracie who resigned from her post on 7th January 2018 having declined a £45k pay rise stating that equivalent roles for men are “unacceptably high”. This follows the BBC Pay Report issued to the public domain in July 2017 which faced major backlash after it was branded discriminatory. With the gender pay gap being thrust into the spotlight at such a high level, it is very much likely that this will filter down to UK SME businesses, and without tribunal fees, many more employees will be willing to take things further should they feel necessary.

The majority of employees are often happy to disclose their wage, and as a caution, employers will have to be ready to provide a non-discriminatory explanation for any pay gap that is discovered, particularly between male and female staff, as well having a clear plan to the future steps their business will take to rectify the difference, and thus reducing the risk of tribunal.

Staff dress code discrimination

The name Nicola Thorp may be familiar – she is the woman who was told to go home from work without pay, after arriving at work in flat shoes and refusing to comply with demands that she must wear 2-4 inch heels. This unsurprisingly lead to nationwide outrage, and her petition to tighten legislation on compulsory gendered uniforms gathered over 152,000 signatures.

Despite the Government’s rejection of calls for a ban on “sexist” dress codes earlier this year, employers should expect similar issues to be brought to light now that the tribunal fees have been abolished. Where work uniform may have previously been an inconvenience to pay upward of £1,000 to dispute, without any financial barriers, HR professionals expect this type of claim will skyrocket, and with social media meaning news spreads like wildfire, is it worth taking the risk not to review your policies? 

Young employees without financial barriers

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ findings from their Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications found that a fee would influence 49% of claimants decision to go to tribunal. Out of that, the proportion of those aged 20-24 were much more heavily affected by the requirement to pay a fee (69%) in comparison to those aged 55-64 and 65+. Financial stability of course will be more of an issue for those at the beginning of their working life, and many young employees are still heavily influenced by American culture where the ‘claim and blame’ culture originates and is still quite resonant. So, when taking fees out of the equation, you may expect a much higher number of cases from younger employees.

If you are dealing with an Employment Tribunal claim, would like support in getting prepared should you ever be faced with one, or simply need general advice on Employment Law, Dêmos HR Solutions are here to help. Our bespoke approach means we are always at the end of the telephone should you need support, so to find out more, please call Debbie on 07974 695 365 or complete our enquiry form. Here’s to 2018 being a year of successful employment for your business, and not a year of increased tribunal cases!