July was an interesting month for anyone following employment law, with the introduction of Tribunal Fees. In recent editions of the newsletter we have reported on this hot topic, as in theory at least, this has the potential to reduce the number of tribunal claims being submitted.
The Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013, and the equivalent Practice Direction for Scotland, came into force for England and Wales on Monday 29th July 2013.
As expected the introduction of the fees has not been welcomed by the Unions. Unison made an application for a Judicial Review however this, on paper at least, seems to have been refused. In Scotland however a Judicial Review will take place and this could happen as early as October. The government has already said that if this review is successful, any fees paid to that date will be refunded.
The fees will vary depending on the type of claim:
Type A: Wage deductions, redundancy pay owed, unpaid annual leave, refusal to allow time off
- £160 will be payable for issuing a claim
- £230 will be payable prior to the hearing
Type B: Unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay, whistle blowing
- £250 will be payable for issuing a claim
- £950 will be payable prior to the hearing
To proceed to an Employment Appeal Tribunal, applicants will have to pay £400 shortly after submitting their appeal and then £1200 for the hearing.
There will also be a range of separate fees for collective claims. In terms of exemptions, applicants will be exempt if they are in receipt of benefits or on an income as low as £13000 – or varying amounts depending on joint income/dependents.
Ultimately of course the government wants to put the brakes on an increasing trend of Employment Tribunal claims. 2010 & 2011 showed a 44% rise on claims compared to 2008 & 2009 and October – December 2012 showed a 14% increase compared to the same period in 2011. While on the face of it, the fees seem an obvious deterrent, it remains to be seen what impact they will have. One factor that will likely have a bearing is whether legal firms and unions offer to pay the fees in advance of a payment from the applicant.