Employment Tribunal Fees apply from 29th July 2013
The Employment Tribunal system was intended to be an accessible, user-friendly forum for the resolution of disputes between employers and employees. However, from 29th July 2013, access to this forum will no longer be free. Employment tribunal claims can be submitted on-line in a relatively straight-forward way, but now there is an extra step in the on-line process where credit card details are required before the claim can be submitted.
Fee levels have been set by reference to different types of claims. For example, someone with a claim for deductions from wages or statutory redundancy pay will have to pay £160 upfront, and then a further £230 for the hearing. Someone with an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim will have to pay £250 upfront and then a further £950 for the hearing. Fees may be waived for those on extremely low incomes or those in receipt of benefits, but this is likely to affect only a small proportion of prospective claimants. For the majority of those who want to establish that their employment rights have been breached, access to justice will come with a price tag of up to £1,200.
The Government has accepted that these fees may have the effect of deterring people from suing in the Employment Tribunal, and many employment lawyers believe that we will see a swift and significant decrease in the number of Tribunal claims against employers. Speaking on the 29th July, the TUC called this a “great day for the UK’s worst bosses”, who may be more likely to get away with unfair or unlawful treatment without facing legal action.
However, good and bad employers alike should be mindful that they could be ordered by a Tribunal Judge to refund all or part of the fees to the claimant, and this is almost a certainty if the employer has a weak defence to the claim. 29th July 2013 is likely to be a day that has consequences for everyone.