The Government has published its response to the consultation on charging fees in employment tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).
The consultation, which was published on 14 December 2011, sought views on two alternative fee charging structures for employment tribunals. The Government has decided to implement the first proposed option, under which the claimant pays an initial fee to issue a claim and a further fee if the claim proceeds to a hearing. Under the second option, which has been rejected, there would have been one fee payable on issuing the claim, with the fee being higher if the claimant was seeking an award of £30,000 or above.
The Ministry of Justice says it will seek to implement the amended fee structure in summer 2013.
The Government states that the aims of the fee system are to ensure that people using employment tribunals contribute to the cost of running the system where they can afford to do so, rather than the full cost being met by the taxpayer, and to encourage people to look for alternatives, such as mediation, before going to the employment tribunal.
The response to the consultation includes some changes to the original proposed fee levels and structure.
There will be two levels of claim (rather than the three originally proposed):
- For level 1 claims, the issue fee is £160 and the hearing fee is £230.
- For level 2 claims, the issue fee is £250 and the hearing fee is £950.
Whether a claim attracts level 1 fees or level 2 fees will depend on the type of claim. Level 2 claims are those that are likely to be more complex and take more time to determine. Level 1 claims include unlawful deduction from wages, holiday pay, and redundancy payment claims. Level 2 claims include discrimination, equal pay and unfair dismissal claims.
There is a separate fee structure for multiple claims (ie claims submitted jointly by more than one claimant) in employment tribunals.
For claims submitted to the EAT, the issue fee is £400 and the hearing fee is £1,200. There is only one level of fee regardless of the type of claim or number of claimants.
The Government has decided that there will be no separate fee for seeking written reasons, as had originally been proposed. Respondents to the consultation were largely opposed to the proposal to charge for written reasons, on the ground that it is a fundamental right to know the reasons for a judicial decision.
Employment tribunals will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the successful party.
The current remission system that is used in the civil courts, under which fees can be waived if the party cannot afford to pay, will be extended to employment tribunals and the EAT.
Consultation on employment tribunal fees Details of the original consultation paper are provided in the XpertHR legal timetable.
Tribunal procedures and other methods of resolution The XpertHR employment law manual includes information on employment tribunal procedures.
How to decide whether to settle or fight an employment tribunal claim Practical guidance for employers faced with a tribunal claim is provided in the XpertHR "how to" section.