Justice Committee calls for lower employment tribunal fees
MPs have called for a substantial reduction in employment tribunal fees to ensure access to justice in the workplace.
The House of Commons Justice Committee says the introduction of issue fees and hearing fees for claimants in July 2013 has led to a drop of almost 70% in the number of cases brought.
The number of employment tribunal claims made by single individuals declined by 67% to around 4,500 per quarter from October 2014 to June 2015, and the number of cases brought by more than one person (multiple claims) declined by 72% from 1500 per quarter in the year to June 2014 to around 400 per quarter since October 2013.
The committee says it has no objection to the principle of charging fees but the difficulty was finding an acceptable rate, taking into account the need to preserve access to justice.
Committee Chair Bob Neill MP said: "Where there is conflict between the objectives of achieving full cost recovery and preserving access to justice, the latter must prevail."
The MPs said it was unacceptable that the government has not reported the results of its review one year after it began and six months after it said it would be completed. Until that information is available, the committee’s recommendations should be taken as “indicating options for achieving the overall magnitude of change necessary to restore an acceptable level of access to justice to the employment tribunals system”.
The committee said: “These recommendations include: “a substantial reduction in the overall quantum of fees; replacement of the binary Type A/Type B categorisation of claims according to complexity; an increase in disposable capital and monthly income thresholds for fee remission; and further special consideration of the position of women alleging maternity or pregnancy discrimination, for whom, at the least, the time limit of three months for bringing a claim should be reviewed.”
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