On 26 July 2017, the Supreme Court abolished employment tribunal fees. Until then employees who wished to raise employment tribunal claims required to pay fees in most circumstances which could be up to £1,200.

As anticipated, the principal impact of the decision for businesses in the food & drink sector has been an increase in the risk of facing employment tribunal claims.

Prior to the introduction of fees, the number of claims lodged in the Employment Tribunal was around 190,000. This dropped following the introduction of fees, and there were around 88,000 claims lodged in the most recent year for which statistics were published. Now that fees have been abolished everyone expects a 'bounce' in the number of tribunal claims. The extent of this bounce is hard to estimate but we anticipate that the volume of claims will rise by at least 50%.

In practical terms this means that food & drink sector employers should seek to ensure that employment and HR processes and procedures are up to date and fit for purpose. It is also increasingly important that care home management staff are trained in dealing with employment and HR issues confidently when they do arise. This is because the consequences of getting it wrong in the HR sphere are now more likely to include employees/ex-employees raising employment tribunal proceedings than in recent years.