Employment tribunal fees plan unveiled

The government has outlined its plans for charging fees to take cases to employment tribunals, designed to cut a multi-million pound bill for the taxpayer and ease pressure on businesses.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly launched a consultation on 14 December on two sets of proposals to ensure that people contribute financially for using the employment tribunal system, which is currently entirely publicly funded. There were 218,100 claims to tribunals in 2010-11, costing the taxpayer £84 million.

The proposals are also designed to help businesses by discouraging unmerited and unnecessary claims and encouraging early settlement of claims.

Mr Djanogly said: “Our proposed fees will encourage businesses and workers to settle problems earlier, through non-tribunal routes like conciliation or mediation and we want to give businesses – particularly small businesses – the confidence to create new jobs without fear of being dragged into unnecessary actions.”

He added: “We believe that people should pay a fair amount towards the cost of their case. Fee waivers will be available for people on low incomes to protect access to justice.”

The government will also continue to fund the cost of employment rights service Acas, which helps people in employment disputes to reach agreement without the need for legal proceedings and is free to users.

The two options put forward in the consultation are:

  • an initial fee of between £150-£250 for a claimant to begin a claim, with an additional fee of between £250-£1,250 if the claim goes to a hearing, with no limit to the maximum award; or
  • a single fee of between £200-£600, with a £30,000 limit on the maximum award and the option of an additional fee of £1,750 for those who seek awards above this amount.

In both options the tribunal would be given the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse fees paid by the successful party.

The consultation will close in March 2012, with a view to introduce the fees not before 2013-14.

LINK: Introducing fees in employment tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal

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