The introduction of employment tribunal fees aims to encourage businesses and workers to mediate or settle dispute rather than go to a full hearing, the government claimed today.
Following a consultation, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said some of the proposed fees will be slightly lower than initially proposed “in order to strike a fair balance between the needs of business and tribunal users”.
Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said: “It’s not fair on the taxpayer to foot the entire £84m bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal. We want people, where they can, to pay a fair contribution for the system they are using, which will encourage them to look for alternatives.
“It is in everyone’s interest to avoid drawn-out disputes which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses. That’s why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives like mediation.”
From summer 2013, mediation by a judge will cost £600 rather than the £750 proposed in the consultation, compared to the £1,200 it would cost to take a ‘level 2’ claim – the more complex employment matters – to a full hearing. The lower fee to take the administratively simpler ‘level 1’ claims to a full hearing will be £390 – which drops to £160 if settled before the hearing fee is payable.
Many people on low incomes may not be required to pay the full fees under the same remission system which already exists for civil court fees. The MoJ said it will review the remission system and publish a consultation later this year as part of a wider review required by the introduction of universal credit in late 2013.
Fees to use the employment tribunal will be payable in advance, and most types of fee will only apply to the person bringing the claim. However, the tribunal will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fee to the successful party.
The introduction of fees is part of the government’s employment law review, which has a heavy emphasis on settlement, including routing all claims to ACAS to offer early conciliation before going to a tribunal, and encouraging more use of mediation through a best practice project in the retail sector and also regional mediation pilots currently being developed in Manchester and Cambridge.