Employment tribunals: fees
Following the introduction of fees to take a case to the Employment Tribunal, the Government undertook to carry out a review to examine the impact of the new fees on the work of the tribunals. They have now carried out this review and in January 2017 published a Consultation Paper on changes they are suggesting might be made to the fees charging system.
The paper states that the introduction of fees had three principal objectives. These objectives were:
(i) the financial objective:those who use the ETs are contributing around £9 million per annum in fees (which is in line with estimates at the time),transferring a proportion of the cost of the ETs fromtaxpayers to those who use the Employment Tribunals.
(ii)the behavioural objective:while there has been a sharp, significant and sustained fall in ET claims following the introduction of fees, there has been a significant increase in the number of people who have turned to Acas’s conciliation service.There were over 80,000 notificationsto Acas in the first year of the new early conciliation service, and more than 92,000 in 2015/16. This suggests that more people are now using conciliation than were previously using voluntary pre-claim conciliation and the ETs combined.(iii) access to justice:our assessment suggests that conciliation is effective in helping up to a little under half of the people who refer disputes to them (48%) avoid the need to go to the ETs, and where it has not worked, many (up to a further 34%) went on to issue proceedings.
The fall in ET claims has been significant and much greater than originally estimated.In many cases, we consider this to be a positive outcome: more people have referred their disputes to Acas’s conciliation service. Nevertheless, there is also some evidence that some people who have been unable to resolve their disputes through conciliation have been discouraged from bringing a formal ET claim because of the requirement to pay a fee.This assessment is reinforced by the consideration given to the particular impact that fees have had on the volumes of workplace discrimination claims, in accordance with the duties under section 149 (1)of the Equality Act 2010.