Some of the biggest changes ever, to the way claims before the Employment Tribunal progress, come into force on 29th July 2013. Whilst we have seen a number of changes over the last few years including the regularity in which an Employment Judge sits alone, the introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunal are ground-breaking. At the time of writing this news entry, the High Court has refused to grant an injunction preventing the fees coming in but has agreed to hear a judicial review on the issue. As the deadline looms we can expect to hear more on this issue.
So what will change on the 29th July 2013? Firstly, the introduction of fees and secondly, a revised set of rules/procedures for dealing with claims before the Employment Tribunal. The Claimant will have to pay an upfront fee to bring a claim and a further hearing fee should the claim progress. If the claim falls within level 1 then the issue fee will be £160 with a further £230 payable as a hearing fee. Level 1 claims are generally sums due on termination of employment such as unpaid wages, notice payments and redundancy payments. If the claim falls within level 2 then the issue fee will be £250 with a hearing fee of £950. Level 2 claims include unfair dismissal, discrimination and equal pay claims. The fees are set at a flat rate irrespective of the amount of money owed or the value of the claim. Those who are eligible can claim remission of the fees in a similar way to the scheme already in place in the County Court.
The new Tribunal rules that come into force on the same day mean that a Tribunal shall reject the Claim where it is not accompanied by a tribunal fee or a remission application and the Employment Tribunal appears to have no discretion on this rejection. There is no right for a reconsideration of the decision under the new rules for this type of rejection. It might be arguable that payment of the incorrect amount (but at least some fee) may give the Claimant a second chance of presenting their claim but issues may then arise about limitation. Much remains to be seen until the new rules bed down. Further fees are also payable when applications or counter claims are made. Fees are also required for judicial mediation. The prospect of judicial mediation is in my view, a welcome addition to the new rules.
It will take some time before the full effect of the introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunal is felt. The Tribunal publishes annual statistics of the number of claims brought and it will take some time before we see whether this fundamental change will achieve its objective of reducing the number of Employment Tribunal claims, so watch this space.
Sarah King, Consultant Solicitor
Posted on Monday, 15th July 2013