We knew it was in the pipeline and this week the Ministry of Justice set out its’ plans for introducing fees to the employment tribunal system.
It is currently proposed that these fees will commence in Summer 2013.
If you are an individual wanting to bring a claim against your employer this is currently free of charge, with costs being met by the taxpayer (estimated costs per annum around £84m). Austerity means that this sort of generosity from the state cannot continue, and so the Ministry of Justice is proposing that some of these costs should be borne by those claimants actually using the system.
Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said:
“It’s not fair on the taxpayer to foot the entire £84m bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal.
“We want people, where they can, to pay a fair contribution for the system they are using, which will encourage them to look for alternatives.
“It is in everyone’s interest to avoid drawn out disputes which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses. That’s why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives like mediation.”
Fees are likely to be charged in two tranches, at the issue of a claim and then subsequently for a hearing if this proves necessary.
The remission system in place for civil cases will be used for employment cases, and therefore any claimant on a low income, for example, would be exempt from some or all of the fees.
At the tribunal stage there will be two levels of fee. Level 1 will be for relatively simple, straightforward claims, for example unpaid wages, redundancy payments, holiday pay etc.
Level 2 will be – unsurprisingly – for more complex cases such as Unfair Dismissal or Discrimination in the workplace.
The proposals on the table suggest that the Level 1 fee for issuing a claim would be £160, and the tribunal fee would be £250.
Level 2 claims would start at £250 for the issuing of proceedings, plus a much larger £950 tribunal fee.
Bringing an appeal would cost extra, as would claims with multiple claimants.
The Ministry of Justice says: “The introduction of fees is part of the Government’s Employment Law Review which aims to maximise flexibility for both employers and employees while protecting fairness and providing a competitive business environment.
“The Review includes a package of reforms 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 through a best practice project in the retail sector and also regional mediation pilots currently being developed in Manchester and Cambridge.”