Tribunal Fees are unlawful!

In 2013 the UK government introduced tribunal fees, triggering a 70% reduction in applications to the employment tribunal by employees. This decision was strongly opposed by UNISON. On 26th July 2017 the Supreme Court allowed the UNISON appeal and announced that the imposition of tribunal fees was unlawful!

So what does this mean for employers?

Employers will be at increased risk (again) of Tribunal claims and may well have to give more serious thought to settling with disgruntled employees at the time of termination of employment, or be more realistic in their discussions in early conciliation with ACAS.

Today, seven Supreme Court Justices held that the Fees Order does effectively prevent access to justice and that the Fees Order imposed unjustified limitations on the ability to enforce EU rights, this means that the rules governing Tribunal applications will need to be rewritten and we will have to wait and see what the current process will be replaced with. The anticipated government consultation will determine the new process but it seems unlikely that tribunal fees will be abolished entirely, they may simply shift all or some of the burden of costs to the employer.

Astonishingly, today’s judgment made it clear that all fees paid between 2013 and now will have to be refunded by the Lord Chancellor’s Department.

With immediate effect the Employment Tribunal Service will have to remove the obligation to pay fees prior to the claim being accepted by the Tribunal.

Many employees chose not to make a claim because of the fee structure introduced in 2013, so it is possible that some employees may now wish to make an application to present a case out of time, on the basis that it was not “reasonably practicable” to bring the claim within the original time frame.

Anyone who has paid a Tribunal fee, who was unsuccessful or who withdrew or settled prior to the Tribunal hearing, will be able to make a claim for a refund of the fee they have paid, this is likely to be a long, slow and complicated process.

There is no guidance at this time to offer to employers who settled via ACAS early conciliation to avoid a tribunal claim. Employees settling via early conciliation would not have incurred a fee as no application to the tribunal was made, but the situation announced today is unprecedented which means we will have to wait for legal guidance before we can know if we should be concerned about employees with previously settled claims being allowed to make a post settlement tribunal application on the grounds that it was previously cost prohibitive.

If you would like to discuss the changes announced today in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact me


Conduct your own HR audit!

 Whether you are a new employer or your business has grown to 50 plus employees, most owners of small businesses will at some point wonder if they are doing enough to meet their legal obligations as employers.

Use this FREE simple checklist to conduct an audit of the HR/People processes in your business.

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Lets try a different approach to performance appraisals!

Annual Appraisals may be outdated!

How long have annual performance reviews/appraisals been in place? Well, I am not sure exactly but research suggests that performance appraisals were born out of Taylors Time & Motion studies implemented in the 1940’s.

No wonder then that the tendency has been to focus on what was not achieved over the period of reflection, with only a small amount of time (if any at all) spent discussing what the employee did well.
Don’t you find it interesting that our sporting athletes excel when their coaches focus most of their time and energy in identifying and developing their strengths and only a very small amount of time on weaknesses? I do and I have always thought it odd that in workplaces across the globe we do exactly the opposite (to sports coaches) and expect our employees to be grateful and to respond with enthusiasm and increased productivity!

Time then for a new approach…..

What if, together we could identify your work related strengths and those of your employees? What if, together we could identify your top 7 work related strengths? These are the characteristics that energise us and help us to perform at our best.

Strengthscope is the world’s most extensive strengths profiling and development system that measures work related strengths. Unlike many assessment systems, Strengthscope uses a positive approach, it is pragmatic and motivates people to develop themselves beyond narrow boxes. It has been researched and tested thoroughly for over 10 years. It is the only Strengths assessment tool that is approved by the BPS (British Psychological Society) and the only one to incorporate a 360 assessment that enables managers and co-workers to provide input on how effectively the person is using their strengths.

Strengthscope is an enabler, it gives people the opportunity to focus on what they are good at and provides a platform for managers to change the way they review or appraise performance – Hooray for that!

Interested in Strengthscope? Take advantage of 20% discount to all new and existing clients ordering Strengthscope before the end of July.

For a free no obligation and informal chat about Strengthscope or any HR questions you may have, please get in touch because my top 7 strengths include collaboration and developing others…………….

Is your Workplace Culture influencing staff turnover?

It can cost thousands of pounds to replace a key member of staff, but don’t just write this off as the real cost of doing business. Employers with high levels of staff turnover can do much to improve staff retention and engagement through cultural change. The first step might be to focus on hiring employees who share the values of your organisation, this may even be more important than knowledge and experience.Continue reading