Several important changes happened to Employment Tribunals at the end of July 2013. Firstly, and most importantly, Tribunal fees are being introduced. In addition, some Employment Tribunal Rules are changing and Compensatory Award limits are changing. Here we’ll run through the changes.
The new rules
- A claim from an applicant will be rejected if it is not accompanied by a fee or a fee remission application (which is an application for the fee to be waived).
- An initial ‘sift’ of all claims and responses will be made by a Judge to decide if a claim or response should be ‘struck out’ and to decide what case management orders are necessary to get the case ready for a hearing.
- Case-management discussions and pre-hearing reviews will be combined into ‘preliminary’ hearings. Preliminary hearings will conduct the ‘sift’ and also explore the possibility of settlement or alternative dispute resolution to avoid the case going to Tribunal.
Several organisations, (in England & Wales, UNISON) have indicated that they are seeking a judicial review of the decision to implement Tribunal fees, which happened in October 2013. On 7th February 2014 the High Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to suggest the fees were unfair – Unison are to appeal this decision further and in May 2014 were given leave to appeal the High Court decision; but this appeal was again dismissed in December 2014.
As things stand at the moment… you can read our updated advice about the ongoing concerns and reviews of employment tribunal fees here.
From 29th July 2013 claimants will be required to pay a fee in order to lodge an Employment Tribunal claim and a further fee will be payable in order for the claim to proceed to a hearing. Claims made on or after the 29th July will attract these new fees. Claims already in the system before this date will not attract any fees.
The following fees will apply:
From 31st January 2017, claims relating to employees of insolvent company’s, where payments are sought from the National Insurance Fund, such as redundancy payments, will no longer require a fee.
A fee remission system will operate to attempt to ensure that access to justice is not reduced for individuals in receipt of certain benefits or who have a disposable monthly income below a certain level. Certain assets are assessed for remission purposes and this includes any redundancy pay or pay in lieu of notice an employee has received from their dismissal. A claimant can apply for remission of the whole or part of the fee. Details of this are in the Government Factsheet here and on this link here. On 30th June 2014 the fee remission application process was simplified and the forms and guidance can be found here.
The new ET1 from that needs to be completed to make a claim is here.
If a claimant submits a claim accompanied by an application for remission and the remission application is refused, the Tribunal will notify the claimant that the fee must be paid by a specified date, and the Tribunal will reject the claim if the fee is not paid by that date.
(There are different fees for claims involving multiple claimants, which are detailed on this factsheet)
Pending the legal challenge to these fees being introduced, fees must still be paid and if the legal challenge is successful the fees will be reimbursed.
From 29th July you will be able to complete a new ET1 claim form online which you can access from the Factsheet, or send the claim in by post or deliver it by hand – all the details you need are in the Factsheet. Employment Tribunals guidance from gov.uk is here and you can start the online application process here.
The Employment Tribunal will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fees paid by the successful party. Fees to take an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal will be £400 to lodge the appeal and a hearing fee of £1,200.
In early 2015 it became clear that the administration and funding of employment tribunals in Scotland is going to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament in due course, which may mean the Tribunal fees may be abolished in Scotland. In September 2015 the Scottish Government announced their plans to scrap tribunal fees. Some believe this may lead to ‘jurisdictional tourism’ where, if Employers have bases UK wide and have employees who work in England/Wales and Scotland they could choose to go to Tribunal in Scotland to avoid the fees.
Changes to the Compensatory Award Limit
There is currently a cap on the compensatory award that can be awarded for a successful unfair dismissal claim of £74,200, rising to £78,335 from 6th April 2015. For any dismissal that takes effect on or after 29th July 2013 the cap on the compensatory award will be the lower of £74,200 or 52 weeks pay. A weeks pay will be based on the claimant’s annual gross salary and will not include pension contributions, benefits in kind or discretionary bonuses.
This cap will not apply to dismissals for whistle-blowing or for certain health and safety reasons. In addition there is no cap on awards for discrimination.
If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues then talk to Lesley at The HR Kiosk – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – our fees are low to reflect the pressures on small businesses and you can hire us for as much time as you need.
Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.