Employment Tribunal Fees – the Options
The Government has now launched its consultation on how to introduce fees for employment tribunals & the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
There are two options put forward, and depending on which option is adopted will influence the likely timing of fees applying: Option 1 only requires secondary legislation, and could therefore be introduced in 2013, while Option 2 would require primary legislation, which the Government estimates couldn’t be achieved before 2014.
Option 1 proposes 3 levels of fees, all of which would initially be payable by the Claimant.
To make a claim to an employment tribunal, the fee would be £150, £200, or £250, with a further fee of £250, £1,000, or £1,250 if the case proceeded to a hearing.
There would be further fees applying to other applications, including requests for written reasons, an application to review a decision, and judicial mediation.
It’s also proposed that the tribunals would have the power to order that an unsuccessful party reimburse the other side for their fees.
A rather peculiar option within the consultation (paragraph 50) would be that tribunals will have the power to strike out a case where the initial hearing fee is not paid by the claimant. As proposed, this would give the tribunal (rather than Parliament) the decision on whether a hearing fee should be payable in some cases.
This proposal differs from that for other applications – requests for written reasons or an application for a review – where if the fees are not paid, the application will not be processed (paragraph 57).
Remission of Fees
The consultation proposes that the HM Courts & Tribunals Service remission system is used for employment tribunals. As one of the criteria is being in receipt of Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, many recently dismissed may not be legible for this – they may instead be receiving Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance for the first six months after dismissal.
Option 2 introduces a further aspect to the level of fees, influenced by whether the claimant is seeking an award above or below £30,000.
The other main feature of Option 2 is that only one payment would be due, rather than one at the time a claim is lodged with a further one prior to the hearing.
Categories for the Various Levels
There are more than 60 types of claims that can be made to an employment tribunal, and a table is provided at appendix A of the consultation paper that details where each of these would fall.
The Government are going to introduce fees – as well as other changes to employment law – and these will likely provide some small benefit to small employers. Whether it will be enough to discourage the vexatious & reckless claims many small employers face is another question. If you have a view, you have until 6 March 2012 to send this to the Ministry of Justice, and you can expect changes to apply to fees from a year or two later, with other changes to employment law coming in April 2012.