Have the new employment tribunal fees led to a drop in employment claims?

 

On 29 July 2013 new employment laws came into force which for the first time saw the introduction of fees for employment tribunal claims. The changes were made by the coalition government to reduce the £74 million annual cost of running the Tribunal Service, and to reduce the pressure of tribunal costs on employers.

However, the new fees have been widely criticised as restricting access to justice. The TUC said the introduction of the fees was ‘a great day for Britain’s worst employers’.

How much does it now cost to go to tribunal?

The headlines in the media have claimed that it will now cost you £1,200 in order to bring an employment claim before a tribunal.

However, this fee is not applicable to all cases. The £250 issue fee and £950 hearing fee that make up the full £1,200 are for more complex employment claims such as whistleblowing and unfair dismissal.

More straightforward claims, such as unpaid wages and redundancy pay, will have a lower fee of £390 (£160 for issuing the claim and £230 for the hearing).

What if I can’t afford that?

In addition, the application of the new fees will be means tested. The government has introduced the ‘remission system’ to help those who wish to bring an employment claim but cannot afford the fees. The remission system will remove all fees for those on specific benefits or for those with a gross annual income of less than £13,000 (this figure increases if the claimant has a partner and/or children).

Some employment lawyers have commented that the introduction of a waiver scheme will only increase the cost of running the Tribunal Service as it is a new level of bureaucracy.

The impact on your rights

Despite the availability of the remission scheme and the possibility of recovering the fee if successful, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said the new fees were just the next step in the coalition government’s attack on the fundamental rights of workers. She said the fees will make ‘it easier for employers to get away with the most appalling behaviour’ and that their ‘only achievement will be to price vulnerable people out of justice’.

On the other hand, justice minister Helen Grant thinks the new laws are necessary to reduce the speculative nature of employment tribunal claims. One could argue that she is following the party line that everyone is a ‘have-a-go Harry’ who thinks they may as well try to get something from their previous or current employer, even if they know they are not really eligible to claim.

Did the system need changing?

Employment lawyers have commented that the previous system was actually quite successful at dissuading those potential claimants with cases that had little or no chance of success, and therefore they predict that the new fee system won’t actually lead to a drop in the number of employment tribunal claims.

Judges already had the ability to dismiss claims with little or no merit and are successful in persuading claimants to drop a claim if it is likely to fail. In addition, they could already impose a fee of £500 for claims with little chance of success.

So has introduction of fees led to a decline in the number of claims coming before the tribunal? Well, it is still early days and there are no official figures so far to indicate that any significant decrease has taken place.

However, employment solicitors around the country are reporting that they have not noticed a drop in the number of employment claims they are undertaking and that this area of law remains as complex as ever. Therefore speaking to an employment solicitor before issuing a claim at an employment tribunal is highly recommended.

Call
0808 1593 554
or fill in the form
Our trained advisor contacts you
Your chosen specialist solicitor calls you
Quick enquiry form
Area of law:
Name:
Town/City:
Email:
Phone:
What our clients say about us
"This was the first time I've been to court, which was a nerve-racking experience for me. However, I felt very prepared, I understood my case and representation - this was down to you."
Gavin, criminal motoring, Oct 15
"Your service, and the prompt call back from your recommended firm was very good. I would not hesitate to call again or recommend your service."
Ian, employment law, Truro, July 15
"The firm were excellent, could not have been better! They are exactly what I need right now."
Linda, criminal defence, Thames Ditton, Jul 15
"Your contact and service was immediate and utmost professional, 10/10."
TF, conveyancing, Dudley, Jun 15
"I appreciate the service that you provide. I found you to be courteous, efficient and reassuring at a time when my confidence in justice is completely negative."
Patrick, litigation, Pontypridd, Jun 15
"I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the speed of which you came back to me in. If anyone else can benefit from your help like I have done, it would make my day."
Gail M, family law, Potters Bar, Jun 15
"Your assistance was extremely helpful. Particularly to someone who in 40 years of business has never experienced this sort of issue."
TD, commercial litigation, Galashiels, Apr 15
"It is difficult to express the value Contact Law has to someone like me who had very little understanding of the law and how to proceed forward with my case. Thank you for the service you provided."
AE, defamation law, Worthing, Apr 15
"Thank you for the efficient service I received. I was contacted by your solicitor on the same day as my request. Your quick response to my situation made me feel secure."
AN, employment law, London, Apr 15
"Your service was excellent, very fast and informative. I never got the impression of being pressurised at all. The solicitor you recommended was also excellent – very knowledgeable and supportive."
JHD, Motoring law, Liverpool, Apr 15
Contact Law supports the endeavours of STAE and commends all the work they are undertaking to assist in the plight of the Asian Elephant

 

We use cookies on the Contact Law site to help us improve it.

If you would like to allow our cookies, please click 'Continue' or carry on browsing. For more information on cookies and how to change your settings, click 'More info'.