Did you know that running the employment tribunal system costs the taxpayer approximately £84m a year? At the moment, a claimant doesn’t have to pay to enter an employment tribunal claim.
The Government wanted to change this, so from summer 2013 (date yet to be announced but likely to be at the end of July) any individual who wishes to issue an employment tribunal claim will be required to pay a fee and (if it goes to court) a further hearing fee. Have a look at the Q&A document for those who fancy some bedtime reading. The table below shows the fees for issuing a claim and having it heard in court. Type A claims are simple, uncomplicated claims such as unlawful deduction of wages, statutory redundancy payments etc. Type B claims are for most claims including unfair dismissal, discrimination and whistle blowing.
The tribunal fees naturally places a financial responsibility on employees. It is hoped that vexatious claims won’t even reach tribunal, so as a result, this is a good thing. Currently a cost order can be made against an employee whose claim doesn’t have merit, but this has to be agreed by a tribunal Judge. However, many disgruntled employees who want their day in court will go to great lengths to have their claim heard. There has been and always will be a cost for any defence by an employer; which could be spent in the time and effort or paying a solicitor to defend any action.
On the flip side of the coin, is it ethical to place tribunal fees on an employee who has genuinely been mistreated by a rogue employer and cannot afford the fees? Do they simply shrug their shoulders and move on whilst an employee who can afford the fee takes forward a claim to the court? It should be noted that if individuals feel they cannot afford to pay the fees, they can put in an application to the HMCTS (HM Courts & Tribunals Service) and if successful, the whole or part of the fee will be waived.
The employment tribunal system is changing. Let’s see what the shake-up brings. Does this strike a balance for you as an employer?