Employment tribunal fees to be introduced in 2013

The government intends to introduce a charging structure to the employment tribunal system. Following lengthy consultation these charges are set to commence in the summer of 2013.

In 2011 the coalition government announced that it proposed to introduce fees into employment tribunals as part of its drive to reform employment law. Consultation began in the same year and the government has now published its response to the ‘Charging fees in Employment Tribunals’ and the ‘Employment Appeal Tribunal consultation’.

The government will implement a charging structure to the submission of employment tribunal claims in the summer of 2013.

A two stage charging structure will be implemented for employment tribunal claims as the government move to place some of the cost burden currently on the tax payer, over to those who are actually using the system.

A claimant will be required to pay an issue fee to commence their claim and a hearing fee if the claim proceeds to a full tribunal hearing. The level of fee will be determined based on the nature of the claim. Level 1 claims are straightforward and relatively low value claims for payments such as wages, redundancy pay, holiday pay and notice pay. Level 2 claims include unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay and whistleblowing. It is proposed that if a claimant issues at the employment tribunal with claims falling within both levels that they would be expected to pay the higher fee.

The proposed fees

Fee Type Level 1 claims Level 2 claims
Issue fee £160 £250
Hearing fee £230 £950

In cases where more than one claimant is bringing the same claim the fee structure makes provision for this and has suggested fees accordingly. These fees are set out below:

Level 1 claims

Fee Type Two to ten claimants 11 to 200 claimants 201 or more claimants
Issue fee £320 £640 £960
Hearing fee £460 £920 £1,380

Level 2 claims

Fee Type Two to ten claimants 11 to 200 claimants 201 or more claimants
Issue fee £500 £1,000 £1,500
Hearing fee £1,900 £3,800 £5,700

The fees for the Employment Appeal Tribunal will mirror the structure outlined above and there will be a fee of £400 to issue an appeal and a fee of £1200 to proceed to a full hearing.  The government will also implement fees in relation to specified applications to the tribunal which will become the burden of the employer rather than the claimant.

These applications and fees are as follows:

  • An application to set aside a default judgement – The fee would be £100 which would be payable by the respondent.
  • An application to dismiss a claim following settlement or withdrawal – The fee would be £60 although it has been recommended that when a party withdraws their claim the respondent should not have to pay to get their claim dismissed.
  • An application for judicial mediation – The fee would be £600 and is payable by the employer.
  • A breach of contract counter claim – The fee would be £160 payable by the employer.
  • An application for a review of a tribunals decision or judgement – The fee for this would be £100 for level one claims and £350 for level two claims.

There was a proposal to implement a fee for making a request for written reasons for a decision following the oral reasons given at tribunal, however this proposal has been removed.

Inability to pay fees

The consultation has made provision for those claimants who are unable to pay any or part of the court fees. The HMCTS (HM Courts and Tribunals Service) civil courts remissions system will be extended allowing claimants to demonstrate that they are financially unable to pay the fees.  However due to the complex nature of this remissions system further consultation will take place regarding its application and guidance will be produced later in 2013.

Refunds and reimbursements

A claimant may only qualify to have their payments refunded in limited circumstances, even if their case did not reach a full hearing. As with all costs associated with employment tribunals, each party bears their own fees, however tribunals will have the power to reimburse the fees paid by the successful party, however this will be the exception rather than the rule.

Implications

The government have stated that it is not their intention to deter claims, merely transfer the burden of paying for the system to those actually using it.  However employees feel that by being forced to pay application fees they are being prevented access to justice and valid claims may be deterred. The government believe that early settlement of cases will be encouraged before further fees are incurred by either party; however, once a claimant has paid a hearing fee they are unlikely to settle the claim at this stage as they would prefer to have the day in court they have paid for, although, this does provide an interesting new area of negotiation for settlement.

Respondents believe that the introduction of fees would deter the weak and vexatious claims that are made by employees. Respondents have commented that the remissions system should take into account employees savings and redundancy payments when calculating whether they should be entitled to any financial assistance. The fees system could also discourage employers from making early settlement offers and merely sit by and wait to see if the claimant pays the issue fee.

We expect further guidance to be published prior to the fees implementation next summer.

For further information on the changes to the tribunal system, please contact Victoria Kitchen in the Employment team on 0161 475 7670.

2 Responses to Employment tribunal fees to be introduced in 2013

  1. You say that introducing a fee for an employment tribunal will not deter employees from applying! That is sheer and utter nonsense. Most employees with a valid reason for complaint are at an immediate disadvantage if they have the temerity to complain to their employer. Very often the complaint is dismissed by the employer who then regards that employee as a “trouble maker” and can make life very difficult for him/her in their working environment. It the complaint has resulted in dismissal then the employee does not pursue the matter as they are totally unaware of their rights and completely ignorant as to where they should go for advice. They also realise that their employer has access to legal assistance where an employee would be unable to afford that luxury or they are too frightened to do anything.
    Now, to make matters even worse, you want to charge an employee for seeking an employment tribunal hearing. You say that if the employee is unable to pay then the costs or some of it would be waived knowing full well that as soon as the words “payment of fees” is seen, the employee will read no further. There is actually very little help available out there for employees and what there is is very difficult to find. ACAS and CAB are not very helpful, as I have discovered. Also the employment regulations are written in such a way as to ensure that the average person would find them very difficult to understand. I am very disappointed at the way employees are being treated by the very Government departments and agencies who are supposed to have their welfare at heart.

    • Angela says:

      Thank you for your comments regarding tribunal Fees. I believe your comments are directed towards the government who have of course introduced these policies. Please note, these policies have not been introduced by SAS Daniels. You have clearly had a very distressing experience with a past employer and it is disappointing to note that you have not been satisfied with the advice you received from ACAS and/or the CAB.

      I appreciate that having been dismissed and then thinking about entering into an employment tribunal is a daunting prospect for most people and the thought of fees may be enough to deter a claimant altogether. However, the purpose behind the introduction of fees is not to deter all claims but to deter the frivolous and vexatious claims that can be freely brought at present by claimants. These claims clog up the tribunal system and place a huge economic burden on employers and the tax payer unnecessarily and as a result the genuine claims suffer.

      It is important to remember that the new fee paying system will be means tested. Therefore, if an employee cannot afford to bring their claim they will, subject to fulfilling certain requirements, be afforded the necessary financial assistance from the state to allow them to proceed. Further guidance on the means testing criteria is expected prior to the introduction of the fees on 29th July and I will report it as soon as possible.

      In the meantime, if you believe you have a claim that should be brought before an employment tribunal I would suggest that you submit your claim before the 29th July to avoid the fees.

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