After much delay, a bit more delay and then, for good measure a tad more delay the government have finally released their report on Tribunal Fees. The Report finds that the systems “original objectives have broadly been met”. The Report decides there would not be any real change to the system beyond expanding the fee remission system, and the removal of fees for claims seeking payments from the National Insurance fund.
Since the introduction of fees in April 2013 the number of tribunal claims has called by about 70%. some see this as evidence of the number of vexatious claims which have been taken from the system. Others, and it would seem, the statistics, show this may not be the case as success levels of claims brought have remained consistent between pre and post fee introduction.
The fear is that recently dismissed employees don’t wish to spend the money on litigation when they do not know when the next pay-packet is coming or what it will contain. The Government’s report accepts there is “clear evidence that ET fess have discouraged people from bringing claims, there is no conclusive evidence that they have been prevented from doing so” Fees are around £160 to issue a type A claim (e.g. wage claims, breach of contract etc), and £250 for a type B claim (e.g. unfair dismissal, discrimination etc). There’s also a further hearing fee of £230 for Type A and £950 for Type B claims. Appeals at the employment appeal tribunals also attract a £400 lodging and £1,200 hearing fee.
one thing that appears constant from looking at tribunal noticeboards, where the jurisdiction codes of the claims being heard are listed, is that there are not many Unlawful Deduction from Wages claims or modest value breach of contract claims being presented to the tribunals. this may be because it was cheaper to issue small claims track proceedings in the county court. UNISON in its response to the report states that “under the changes low-paid women have been the biggest losers, especially those who are pregnant or on maternity leave”
A legal challenge has been made UNISON to the fee system and the union’s appeal is due to be heard by the Supreme Court on 27th and 28th March 2017.