Fees were introduced in Employment Tribunals on 29 July 2013.
The amount of fees which a Claimant has to pay in order to pursue a claim depends on the type of claim - Type A or Type B. Type A claims are generally simpler claims such as claims for a statutory redundancy payment or unlawful deductions from wages. Type B claims are more complex and include unfair dismissal, discrimination and whistleblowing claims. The Claimant must pay both a fee when the claim is submitted (the issue fee) and a hearing fee a few weeks before the hearing.
The issue fee payable by a single claimant is:
- Type A claim: £160.
- Type B claim: £250.
The hearing fee payable by a single claimant is:
- Type A claim: £230.
- Type B claim: £950.
There are different fees for groups of two or more Claimants.
This is a major change in the Employment Tribunal system where Claimants were previously able to pursue claims with relatively little financial commitment. Employers hoped that the introduction of fees would discourage Claimants, particularly vexatious Claimants, but not everyone is happy with the change. UNISON has applied for a judicial review of the introduction of fees. The government has given an undertaking that, if the fees are found to be unlawful, all fees will be repaid with interest. We await the outcome of the judicial review proceedings, which is likely to be announced in 2014 but, in the meantime, what impact has the introduction of fees actually had?
It's still very early days and, if UNISON succeeds we might see the end of Employment Tribunal fees, but figures released by the Ministry of Justice suggest that the introduction of fees is not having a significant impact on the number of claims. There was a dramatic increase in the number of claims submitted in June which suggests that Claimants were rushing to submit their claims before the fees deadline. There was then a drop in August which is not surprising given that many Claimants appear to have submitted their claims earlier than they might otherwise have done. However, there was a total of 40,000 claims submitted in July – September which the Ministry of Justice says is in line with historical quarterly trends. This indicates that the introduction of fees has not had a huge impact.
It remains to be seen what the longer term impact will be but it looks as if employers cannot afford to relax yet.