Outcome of Employment Tribunal Fees Review Published
The Government’s long-awaited review of employment tribunal fees concludes that whilst there is clear evidence that fees have discouraged people from bringing claims, there is no conclusive evidence that they have been prevented from doing so.
The Government considers that its original objectives when introducing fees have been broadly met. Users have contributed around £9m per annum in fees, resulting in the cost to the taxpayer being reduced. More people are using Acas conciliation than were previously using voluntary pre-claim conciliation and employment tribunals combined. In addition, conciliation has been effective, with just under half of those who referred a dispute avoiding the need to go to the employment tribunal. Where conciliation did not work, many (up to 34%) went on to issue proceedings.
The Government noted that Acas’s evaluation of early conciliation identified between 3,000 and 8,000 people who were unable to resolve their dispute through conciliation and who did not go onto issue proceedings because they said they could not afford to pay. However, it considered that this did not necessarily mean they could not realistically afford to pay the fee. It might equally mean that they would have to reduce other areas of non-essential spending or that they were unaware of the Help with Fees scheme (remission) or that they were unaware of the Lord Chancellor’s exceptional power to remit fees.
- Proposes to extend the support available under the Help with Fees scheme and is consulting on setting the gross monthly income threshold for fee remission at broadly the level of someone earning the National Living Wage.
- Has decided that it is not appropriate to charge a fee in cases which relate to payments out of the National Insurance Fund. It has exempted those proceedings from the requirement to pay fees with immediate effect.
- Has decided against treating pregnancy and maternity discrimination cases more favourably as regards fees.
The review also concluded that fees are neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory. That is a question which is being considered by the Supreme Court on 27 and 28 March in UNISON’s judicial review of employment tribunal fees.
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