Employment Tribunal Fees Update
Back in July 2013, making an Employment Tribunal claim incurred no costs to individuals making the claim.
However, in 2010 – 2011 the Ministry of Justice claimed that by having no costs for claimants it cost the taxpayer over £84 million. Jonathan Djanogly, the Justice Minister stated;
‘It’s not fair on the taxpayer to foot the entire £84 million bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal.’ (2012)
The Government decided to try and reduce the costs to the taxpayer by transferring a percentage of the costs to claimants using the service and by also introducing early conciliation as mandatory in April 2014 in order to avoid potential Tribunal claims.
The changes were part of the Government’s plan to start promoting early resolution of disputes with the aim to help businesses and individuals get back to their everyday lives as quickly as possible.
George Osborne claimed the change would make employers feel more confident about hiring new people as the risk factor would be eliminated and ‘the one way bet against small businesses’ would come to an end.
Recent figures show that individuals wanting to make a claim may regard this as a significant disincentive to litigating a dispute.
The Government’s plan to reduce the number of tribunals for unfair dismissals has started to pay off, with figures showing a decrease of 52% in claims received between 2014 – 2015 compared to the same period the previous year.
However, a number of employers do still argue that the tribunal systems haven’t done enough to discourage weak and unfounded claims. This is inviting employers to seek alternative ways to prevent Employment Tribunal claims and many businesses are putting systems in place to ensure management staff are fully trained to deal with uneasy conversations with employees by encouraging staff to use ACAS, a friendly free service to help businesses settle disputes and avoid going to tribunal.
Two applications have been made for a judicial review of the Tribual fees by UNISON with the latest application receiving a dismissal by the High Court in December 2014. UNISON appealed against the decision however this was dismissed by Mr. Justice Underhill in August 2015 as there is not a direct correlation between the decrease in the number of claims and the affordability factor. Mr. Justice Underhill did however state the following:
‘The decline in the number of claims in the Tribunals following the introduction of the Fees Order is sufficiently startling to merit a very full and careful analysis of its causes; and if there are good grounds for concluding that part of it is accounted for by Claimants being realistically unable to afford to bring proceedings the level of fees and/or the remission criteria will need to be revisited’.
When the fees were introduced, the Government said there would be a thorough post-implementation review, however this is yet to be completed.
In 2015, it is clear that there has been a significant drop in the number of claims and it is up to debate as to whether the drop in the past two years since the Employment Tribunal Fees were introduced is due to employees being discouraged by costs or simply because employers are opting for mediation to settle disputes.
Have you recently thought about making an Employment Tribunal claim?
The employment team at Clapham & Collinge solicitors in Norwich can provide you with any information you may need, offer support and advice and give their expert opinion on whether you may have a case worth pursuing.
For more information on Employment Law visit the Clapham & Collinge Norwich solicitors online or call 01603 693500 today.