Employment Tribunal Fees to be Reviewed
In a written answer in to Caroline Lucas MP, Justice Minister Shailesh Vara MP has confirmed that “the Government is currently considering the options for a review of Employment Tribunal fees, and a further announcement will be made in due course”.
The Daily Mail is suggesting that the government could scrap the charges, but to be fair, it’s a bit early to draw that conclusion.
The Business Secretary in the previous coalition government did feel the system was wrong, blaming the Justice Secretary (Chris Grayling, who continues to hold this office) for blocking any review. And Unison trade union does have permission to appeal against decisions of the High Court refusing it Judicial Review applications which are due to be heard this month. But whether the fees will be scrapped, or even amended, will be subject to any review, and then decisions of the government.
Quoted stats on the fall in claims since fees were introduced vary, but these typically don’t include – or at least fully allow for – consideration of the ACAS Early Conciliation process which are resolving/settling some cases before a claim is even made… although Employment Law Clinic would recommend that it’s not often necessary to settle at this [Acas Early Conciliation] stage: a settlement is always available at a later stage in proceedings, and without a claim (or the financial commitment to this) made, it’s not clear that a claim would be made at all, so employers could be settling earlier than necessary.
Regardless of whether there will be Judicial Review, it appears likely – and reasonable – that this policy & its effect on tribunal claims, justice in the workplace, and the pros/cons for employers will be reviewed. What that review might involve or lead to though, it’s far too early to say – although ELC wouldn’t speculate that fees will be withdrawn anytime soon, as the government still have an agenda to cut the deficit, and share the burden of this among all users of government services.