Ministers plan to bring back Employment Tribunal fees

Ministers plan to bring back Employment Tribunal fees

According to a recent report in the Times Newspaper, Government ministers are planning to re-introduce fees for workers bringing claims in an Employment Tribunal.

This would be an interesting development at a time when businesses are struggling to get back on their feet and employees are concerned about losing their jobs due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19.

Employment Tribunal fees were abolished in July 2017 following the Supreme Court decision in R (on the application of Unison) v Lord Chancellor. In this case, the Supreme Court found that ministers had acted unlawfully when fees of up to £1,200 were introduced for claims such as unfair dismissal or equal pay. The scheme was said to impede access to justice for workers by making it  “virtually impossible or excessively difficult for certain groups to exercise their employment rights”. The Supreme Court found that the fees were not reasonably affordable for households on low to middle income and that they were indirectly discriminating against women. Significantly, the introduction of the fees led to a 70% fall in tribunal claims.

Unison pursued two High Court challenges and a Court of Appeal challenge before the fees were finally removed by the Supreme Court, who ordered ministers to reimburse £27 million to litigants who had paid fees under the scheme.

It has been suggested that by liaising with the Law Commission, the Government is providing a safety net in the event of any future challenges to the legality of the fees. One suggestion purportedly under consideration is the imposition of fees on employers to defend tribunal claims. This would arguably ensure employees have access to justice, however, it could be misused by disgruntled employees as a means of pressurizing former employers into making payments to them rather than paying tribunal fees.

The image of justice is a set of evenly balanced scales and it is important that both parties’ interests, including access to the system, are considered and balanced in order for justice to be seen to be done.

How Blaser Mills Law can help?

Our expert lawyers have a vast range of experience in litigating and defending claims on behalf of employers and employees. Using this knowledge, they will work closely with you to achieve the best outcome possible in the most stress-free and cost-effective way. In particular, they are adept at achieving advantageous settlements and conducting negotiations.

If a settlement is not possible, our experienced and effective advocates can represent you at any tribunal hearing or arrange specialist Counsel if the complexity of the case demands.

For more information, please contact Debbie Sadler on 01494 478671 or at djs@blasermills.co.uk.