Employment tribunal cases start to rise following fees slump
There has been a significant rise in the number of claims coming before employment tribunals, according to the latest research.
Figures published by the Law Gazette show there were 4,390 single claims in the third quarter of 2014 compared with 3,790 in the first quarter. That was a jump of 16%.
The increase should be seen in the context of the sudden 80% drop in claims that followed the introduction of tribunal fees in 2013, which meant that employees had to pay to proceed with their case.
It’s thought that many employees who at first were intimidated by the thought of paying fees have now got used to the idea and are more prepared to take the risk of pursuing a claim.
The figures may increase even more over the coming year as cases delayed by the Acas conciliation service start to proceed to tribunals. In May 2014, employees became obliged to use the Acas service as a first step towards seeking a solution to a work dispute.
This helped to resolve some cases but merely delayed others, meaning there may now be a backlog of cases not settled by Acas, which will need to be heard by employment tribunals.
Tribunal fees work on two levels.
Level 1 claims include breach of contract, equal pay, holiday pay, redundancy issues and wages.
Level 2 claims include unfair dismissal, detriment and discrimination.
For a Level 1 claim, the employee has to pay an Issue Fee of £160 to begin the claim and then a further £230 if the case proceeds to a tribunal hearing.
Level 2 claims require an Issue Fee of £250 and a Hearing Fee of £950.
Fees for groups of claimants vary depending on how many people are involved. For example, if there are between 2 and 10 claimants, the Issue Fee is £500 followed by a Hearing Fee of £1,900. Cases involving more than 200 people involve an Issue Fee of £1,500 and a Hearing Fee of £5,700.
In June, the government announced a review of the fees system to see if it is working as planned and whether it is deterring genuine claimants from pursuing their case. We shall keep clients informed of developments.
Please contact John Carter if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.