In July the Supreme Court ruled that the fees to bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal (which were introduced on 29 July 2013) were unlawful. There were two levels of fee – for shorter and more straightforward claims (such as claims for outstanding notice pay or holiday pay) the total fee was £390. For more complicated claims (including claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination) the total fee was £1,200. Since the Employment Tribunal fees were first introduced Unison has brought a number of legal challenges to get them removed.
Unison’s primary argument was that the Employment Tribunal fees were excessive, and restricted access to justice. It was also argued that they were indirectly discriminatory because women were more likely to bring equal pay claims, and these attracted the higher fee.
All the challenges brought by Unison had previously been unsuccessful - until now.
As a result of this recent Supreme Court decision the requirement to pay any fee in order to bring a claim has been removed. There is a possibility that the government will introduce a lower fee, but at present that is just speculation.
In addition, the government has committed to repay all those who have paid a Employment Tribunal fee since they were introduced back in July 2013. The process for doing this is currently being determined. The government is also looking into repaying respondents who have been ordered to reimburse issue fees as part of an order for compensation to a successful claimant. If you have been in this situation, and have had to repay a fee to a claimant, it is likely that you will be contacted about a reimbursement.
Individuals who have brought a claim which has been rejected because the correct fee was not paid can now apply for those cases to be reviewed. This could mean that you have an individual bringing a claim against you that would otherwise have been out of time (most claims have to be brought to the Employment Tribunal within three months of the situation occurring).
Employment Tribunal claims dropped by around 70% when the fees were introduced. It is therefore very likely that we will see a sudden increase in the number of claims to the Employment Tribunal. If you are addressing any issues that could result in a potential claim it is more important than ever to ensure that you operating in a legally compliant way. Accordingly, if you have any queries or concerns at all, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0113 336 3314 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
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