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Government Reports on Impact of Tribunal Fees

The Government has published its long awaited report into the impact of the introduction of employment tribunal fees.

Fees were introduced for proceedings in the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal in July 2013.

Dramatic Change

In its report, the Government said that the introduction of fees has dramatically changed how workplace disputes are resolved, and has concluded that fees have been generally successful in meeting the original objectives.

According to the report, a record number of people have sought to resolve disputes either through tribunals or conciliation since the fees were introduced.

While many have chosen not to bring employment tribunal claims, the review found nothing to suggest they have been prevented from doing so, and that higher numbers turning to ACAS to resolve their disputes is a “positive outcome”.

The review also found that:

  • in 2015/16 there were more than 92,000 workplace disputes notified to Acas - the highest number since employment tribunal fees were introduced, and
  • tribunal users are contributing up to £9 million a year in fee income, in line with expectations.

Help with Fees Scheme

The review did apparently find some evidence that the fees have been off-putting for some people, even if they were ultimately affordable or if people may have qualified for fee waivers.

The Government intends to raise awareness of the assistance available through its Help with Fees scheme, which waives fees for the lowest paid. It has also published proposals for consultation on ways of expanding this scheme.

Under these proposals, more people would not pay a fee and others would contribute less than under current arrangements. The extended scheme would benefit the disabled, women, BAME individuals, and the young, who all feature disproportionately among low income groups. There are additional allowances for people living as couples and those with children.

The Government has also said it will exempt from fees a small number of proceedings related to payments made from the National Insurance Fund, as in most cases the applicant is unable to conciliate or recover fees. 

“It is right that those who can afford to should contribute to the cost of employment tribunals,” explained Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald. “Under our reforms, record numbers are bringing forward disputes in tribunals or through the ACAS conciliation service.”

“Costs should not prevent anyone bringing claims, so we are extending our Help with Fees Scheme and will introduce a Green Paper on further legal support measures,” he added.

TUC Response

The TUC has responded to the publication of the review, accusing the Government of “turning a blind eye” to the impact the introduction of tribunal fees has had.

It highlights that the report authors had acknowledged that there had been “a sharp, significant and sustained drop in the volume of tribunal claims following the introduction of fees”. The TUC also quotes Government figures revealing big drops in the number of sex discrimination related cases (-71%), race discrimination (-55%) and disability discrimination (-51%).

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For expert legal advice on raising or defending an employment tribunal claim, or on other areas of employment law, then contact our specialist employment lawyers today.

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