From 29 July, Claimants will be required to pay up to £250 to bring their claims to a tribunal, with an additional payment of up to £950 due if their claim progresses to a hearing.The fees will apply to all cases commenced after the rules come into force on 29 July. Claims will fall into one of two levels:

Level 1 claims:

Initial fee: £160

Hearing fee: £230

  • Breach of contract,
  • Wages claims,
  • Equal pay claims,
  • Holiday pay,
  • Redundancy pay, and
  • Some claims relating to rights to time off

Level 2 claims:

Initial fee: £250

Hearing fee: £950

  • Unfair dismissal,
  • Detriment, and
  • Discrimination

The introduction of fees forms part of the Government's wider reforms of employment law to streamline and modernise the employment tribunals system, including routing all claims to ACAS to offer early conciliation before going to a tribunal, and encouraging more use of mediation. It will not be compulsory to submit your claim to ACAS for pre-claim conciliation until April 2014 and although the fee for judicial mediation at £600 will be cheaper than the level two hearing fee, presently the judicial mediation service is provided free of charge to users.

Those on low incomes may not be required to pay the full fees, under the same remission system which already exists for fees in the civil courts. This will be considered by the Government together with its review of the Universal Credit system.

Under the new regime, the tribunal will have the power to order that fees be reimbursed by a losing opponent to the successful party.

Further guidance is to be issued in respect of the processes and arrangements for the payment of fees, and a Q&A document is expected to be published soon.

Impact for Employers

  • The introduction of tribunal fees may lead to a reduction in the number of claims being brought on an opportunistic basis. However, once a claim has been brought, claimants are likely to seek reimbursement of fees paid as part of any settlement offer. The Government has indicated that its expectation is that, in practice, reimbursement of fees would form part of any settlement offer.
  • In particular, the deadline for the payment of the hearing fee (payable approximately six weeks in advance of the hearing) is likely to present an additional focus for the parties to discuss settlement of the claim.

New Tribunal Rules

The tribunal fees will form a key part of the new Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure. Other changes include:

  • Removal of the £20,000 cap on costs ordered by a tribunal;
  • Introduction of a "sift stage" whereby the ET1 and ET3 will initially be reviewed by an employment judge, and the case struck out if appropriate; and
  • Introduction of "preliminary hearings", combining the existing case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews.

The new Employment Tribunal Rules are also coming into force on 29 July 2013.