Employment Tribunal Fees
Meredith Hurst Thursday, December 15, 2011
The Government plans to introduce fees into the employment tribunal system. This could spell the end of the vexatious claimant and certainly the lower end employment disputes cases of little value.
The Government announced earlier this year its proposal to introduce a fee on submitting a claim to the employment tribunal. The intention is to encourage employers and employees to resolve disputes internally but the principal driver is to save the taxpayer and employment tribunal system money. The system has suffered from overcrowding although this has been more to do with the glut of equal pay claims than a general increase in claims across the board.
Bringing a claim is currently free. The Government consultation requests opinions on two separate fee-charging schemes. What is clear though is that the prospect of some sort of fee being introduced is not negotiable.
Option one states that the fee would depend on the type of claim. The proposal is for there to be two fees payable: one when the claim is submitted; and another when the case is to be heard in the employment tribunal. These will be known as the issue fee and the hearing fee. The issue fee is going to be in the region of £250 and the hearing fee will be between £250 and £1,250 depending upon the length of the hearing.
Option two would involve payment of one fee at the outset irrespective of whether the case progressed to a hearing. The fee would be between £250 and £1,750. The fee will depend upon the type of case, the number of people involved and the likely value of the claim. Cases estimated to be worth over £30,000 will attract a higher fee.
We feel that this may prove a disincentive to many claimants who would otherwise have submitted a claim perhaps for tactical reasons alone (as a tactic in negotiation). It also will also reduce the number of low value or vexatious claims. Whether it will engender resolution of internal employment disputes in the workplace remains to be seen.
The consultation closes on 6 March 2012. We welcome your thoughts and opinions.