HR · 14 December 2017

Employment tribunal claims increase hugely since fees abolished

The number of claims for unlawful deductions from wages has increased
The number of employment tribunals went up 64 per cent overall in the two months after fees were abolished this year, government data has shown.

The increase is the highest in the UK for four years, demonstrating that workers have become more willing to bring claims to resolve employment disputes now that they don’t have to pay fees of up to 1, 200.

The first official employment tribunal statistics to be published since July 2017, when fees were abolished, show that claims for unlawful deductions from wages which had all but disappeared as a result of fees had resurfaced.

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From a total of 549 in July this year, the number of claims relating to unlawful deductions from wages increased to 2, 926 in August and 2, 027 in September.

The overall number of employment tribunal claims went up to 3, 045 single claims in August and 2, 639 in September. The significant increase in August is thought to be because of claimants rushing to submit claims before reaching the time limit to do so.

Employment partner at national law firmirwin Mitchell, Sybille Steiner, said that another set of quarterly figures would be needed to determine whether the statistics represented the new normal. But, she conceded: Claims are only going in one direction and that is upwards.

Employment tribunal fees were introduced four years ago, but were removed on 26 July this year after a Supreme Court ruling found that the government had acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced them.

Steiner added: The Supreme Court heard convincing evidence that many workers didn’t bother to bring claims for unlawful deductions from wages such as being underpaid holiday because the cost of bringing them often exceeded the amount in dispute.

attitudes have clearly now changed, and we are likely to see increasing numbers of workers willing to bring claims if they cannot resolve disputes directly with their employers.

Head of advisory at employment law firm Peninsula, Kate Palmer, told Business Advice that the increase in claims showed it had become more important than ever that employers were operating in an honest, fair and lawful way.



Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.