Many will be aware of the landmark Supreme Court case that recently abolished the Employment Tribunal (ET) fees payable by employees to bring any claim they might have against their employer (R (on the application of Unison) v. Lord Chancellor  UKSC 51). Read more about the case here.
Subsequently on 10 August 2017 and as a result of the effects of the above case, Employment Judge Wright in the Southampton ET ruled that a claimant could extend the time (limitation period) for filing her claim for disability and age discrimination (Dhami v. Tesco Stores Limited (Southampton Employment Tribunal)).
The reason behind the decision in Dhami was that when the claimant had brought the claim initially, her application for financial assistance with the ET fees was unsuccessful. As she could not pay the fee her claim was rejected in its entirety and she was potentially out of time to bring a second claim. We now know that as a result of the R v. Lord Chancellor case, this would be considered unlawful and a limit on access to justice and therefore the claimant in Dhami was granted an extension of time to bring her claim.
What this means for Employees
Employees can now bring claims without the financial burden of having to fund the fees, which has historically been a bar to potential claimants. In addition, potential claimants may be able to extend the time for bringing their claim as in Dhami. However, it is important to note that there were additional factors taken into consideration in Dhami and there is likely to be a cut-off point for when extensions are allowed. The advice to employees is therefore to act swiftly while the clock is ticking.
Am I entitled to a refund of my ET fees?
In light of the decision in R v. Lord Chancellor, the Employment Tribunals (England & Wales) are currently working on the mechanics of the refund scheme and hope to make an announcement of the details this September (2017). In short, the answer is yes, but there is likely to be some form of application and vetting process.
What this means for Employers
Removing the fees hurdle for potential claimants means that the floodgates are open and employers will likely see an increase in claims against them. It is now more important than ever that employers protect their business when it comes to employment and HR issues.
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Can GWL help?
Guy Williams Layton has a dedicated employment team ready to discuss the content of this article as well as all of your other employment and HR needs. Whether you are an employer or an employee, GWL is here to help.