Category Archives: employment tribunal fees

HR trends for 2018

Now the excitement of the Christmas and New Year festivities has faded it’s time to get down to business and look ahead to identify the HR trends for 2018.

One major trend is the increasing need to focus on data protection. In May 2018 there will be major shake up of data protection laws which have existed in the UK since 1984 designed to protect employees and consumers in how their personal information is held and managed by organisations.  Organisations will need to undertake an audit of data protection procedures across departments to ensure personal information is handled in accordance with the new laws.  An audit should methodically identify what data is held and why, who manages the data, what procedures are followed,and what needs to be altered to ensure compliance with the law. Subject access requests must now be handled within one month and without charging a fee.  Employees and potential new employees must be informed as to the exact reasons why their personal data will be processed.  Organisations need to draw up a privacy notice that should indicate what and how personal information will be managed.  To be honest data protection isn’t the most exciting area of HR but unfortunately if companies don’t comply the consequences could be huge fines. To find out more there is a wealth of information on the Information Commission website

Following the success of Unison in the Supreme Court in July 2017 employment tribunal fees have been abolished.  The fees were introduced in July 2013 and meant that if an employee wanted to take their employer to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal they had to find £1200 which is a hefty sum if you have just lost your job. The Supreme Court decided that the fees were unfair and were a barrier to justice.  Anyone who paid employment tribunal fees since 2013 is entitled to apply for a refund.

The statistics from 2013 – –  showed a dramatic reduction in the number of employment tribunal claims being lodged which was the main intention of the Conservative government.  Since the abolition of the fees there has been a noticeable increase in the number of claims being lodged although at the moment they have not reached anywhere near the level in 2013 before the fee introduction.  However, give it time.  There remain a lot of unscrupulous employers out there who fail to treat their employees well.  It now costs nothing to lodge a claim so during 2018 we could well see the trend in the number of claims rising.

The latest unemployment figures show the rate is 4.6% which means there is very little wriggle room for employers to find new staff.  The skills shortage and therefore this trend in the UK will continue and may get worse.  This is a phenomenon that has been around for quite a while in the UK with many industry sectors suffering and competing for staff.  The skills shortage may get worse in some industry sectors with Brexit causing an impetus of skilled staff returning to their homes elsewhere in Europe.

Employment Tribunal Fees Unlawful

Breaking news today from the Supreme Court, who have decided that employment tribunal fees introduced in July 2013 are unlawful as they prevented access to justice and breached UK and EU law.

The case was taken to the Supreme Court ultimately by Unison who have fought this long and hard, but now successful battle.  Many of the employees who have paid fees to take their employer to tribunal will now need to be refunded.  The government will have to now pay out a whopping £27 million.  Before July 2013 employees could take their employer to a tribunal without charge, but this changed in 2013 when fees topping £1200 were introduced for claims related to unfair dismissal and discrimination.  This has lead to a dramatic decrease in the number of claims being lodged – 78% in three years.  The reduction has probably been due to a lack of affordability by many employees unable to do anything about any potential unfair illegal treatment at work.  If someone was unfairly dismissed they would more than likely not have the funds to take a claim having lost their job and income.  This would be particularly relevant to employees with a with low or middle income.

Time will tell how the government will tackle the need to make changes.  Whilst the Supreme Court has indicated employment tribunals should be free, tribunal fees may not be completely abolished but may perhaps be vastly reduced.  The government will probably organise a consultation exercise before implementing any changes to fees.

In July 2013 the government introduced a mandatory one month ACAS conciliation period which has helped to resolve approximately 90% of cases without going to an employment tribunal.  This process will probably still be retained as it appears to have been very successful in helping to reduce the thousands and thousands of claims that used to swamp the employment tribunal system.

Nevertheless, it seems that this barrier to justice will now be removed so law-breaking employers should beware.

The Changing Face of The Employment Tribunal

I recently represented a claimant case in Nottingham employment tribunal.  The claimant waiting room was eerily quiet being empty when we walked in.  This was compared to sixteen months earlier when I had represented another claim there and the room had been packed out.   My latest case lasted three days and during that time we hardly saw any other claimants and  representatives in the waiting room.   The case ran over and the judge had to assign another day so the remaining witnesses could be cross examined, representations could be made and the verdict decided upon.  He reluctantly did this saying the government had cut back his sitting days dramatically.  This seems to be the shape of things to come.

On Monday 29 July under the The Employment Tribunals(Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013 the government introduces tribunal fees for claimants wishing to lodge a claim and then to request a hearing.  The last day, therefore, for bringing a fee-free employment tribunal claim will be by 4pm on Friday 26 July.  Any claims already in the system will not attract fees.

Following the introduction of the fee system the fees will be repaid to the claimant if they win.

Type A claims (including unlawful deductions, notice pay, equal pay and redundancy pay) will cost £160 to lodge the claim, with a £230 hearing fee; and

Type B claims (including unfair dismissal and discrimination) will cost £250 to lodge the claim and a £950 hearing fee.

Appeals will cost up to £1,600. Witnesses’ expenses will no longer be paid.

Fees will be either paid online via credit or debit card or by cheque or postal order.

There will also be a fee remission system, which will attempt to ensure that access to justice is not reduced through the introduction of tribunal fees. This will apply to individuals in receipt of certain benefits or who have a disposable monthly income below a certain level. The income of a claimant’s partner will be taken into account though when determining whether a fee remission is given.

The potential cost of losing an employment tribunal will rise to £20,000 which will further discourage claims.  Tribunals are increasingly awarding costs to the losing party which will further discourage claims being brought.

Employment tribunals were introduced in the early 1970s by a Tory government as a way of preventing strikes over unfair dismissals and workplace injustices. Tribunals can award compensation, but cannot force an employer to take back a worker judged unfairly dismissed.  With the changes to the employment tribunal system it seems that rogue bosses will once again have the upper hand and claimants will have to think twice about the implications of lodging a claim.

The unions are already pitting their wits against the government claiming it is unlawful to deny citizens the right to take a free claim in pursuance of their employment rights.  The fee structure law will be implemented on 29 July, but if the unions win in court the fees will be refunded.

Implementation of Employment Tribunal Fees

On 13 July In the past week the Ministry of Justice published its plans for the introduction of fees in employment tribunals following consultation. It is currently planned that these fees will be introduced in the summer of 2013 whereas currently it is free to bring an employment tribunal claim.

Two main fees will be introduced, the first payable at the issue of the claim and the second, the hearing fee, payable around four weeks prior to the hearing taking place.

These fees will based on two fee levels which apply depending on the nature of the claim.

Level 1 will include claims for unpaid wages and holiday pay.  The fee will total £390 (£160 paid to lodge the claim and £230 for the hearing).

Level 2 will include unfair dismissal, discrimination and detriment claims. The fee will total £1200 (£250 to lodge a claim and £950 for the hearing). 

Mediation by a judge will cost £600 rather than the £750 proposed in the consultation document.  

Those on low incomes will be excused part or full payment.

Fees to use the employment tribunal will be payable in advance, and most types of fee will only apply to the person bringing the claim.  The tribunal will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fee to the successful party.  No separate fee will be charged for seeking written reasons for a tribunal’s decision. Those on low incomes can be excused full or part of the proposed payments.

There are no changes to the original proposals to apply fees to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (a £400 issue fee and £1200 hearing fee).