Employees will have to pay to bring tribunal claims
Employees wanting to bring tribunal claims will have to pay fees ranging from £150 to £1,750 under new proposals announced by the Government.
Ministers say the move will relieve pressure on businesses and reduce the £84m annual cost to the taxpayer.
The Ministry of Justice has now begun a public consultation on the proposals, which are designed to ensure that those who use the system make a contribution towards the costs.
The consultation offers two options for consideration:
- Option 1: an initial fee of between £150-£250 for a claimant to begin a claim, with an additional fee of between £250-£1250 if the claim goes to a hearing, with no limit to the maximum award; or
- Option 2: a single fee of between £200-£600 – but this would limit the maximum award to £30,000 – with the option of an additional fee of £1,750 for those who seek awards above this amount.
Both options would allow the tribunal to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the other side’s fees.
It’s hoped that the proposals will discourage unmerited claims and encourage early settlement.
Many employers believe that the current system puts them at a disadvantage even if they are blameless because complainants have nothing to lose by going to a tribunal and have few incentives to choose conciliation or mediation.
The Government fears that excessive claims may be a barrier to employment with firms reluctant to recruit because they fear they could be “taken to a tribunal on a whim” if something goes wrong.
Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said: “We believe that people should pay a fair amount towards the cost of their case. Fee waivers will be available for people on low incomes to protect access to justice.
“Our proposed fees will encourage businesses and workers to settle problems earlier, through non-tribunal routes like conciliation or mediation and we want to give businesses – particularly small businesses - the confidence to create new jobs without fear of being dragged into unnecessary actions.”
There were 218,100 claims to Employment Tribunals in 2010-11, a 44% increase on 2008-09. The introduction of fees will bring employment tribunals in line with civil courts where claimants already have to pay to bring a case.
The consultation closes in March, but the fees are unlikely to be introduced before 2013-14.
We shall keep clients informed of developments.
Please contact Robert Bedford if you would like more information about tribunal claims or any aspect of employment law.