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Mixed response to new employment tribunal fees


Plans to charge individuals a fee of up to £1,200 for taking a claim to an employment tribunal have sparked a mixed reaction from trade union and business groups.


Following a consultation, the Government has confirmed the details of a new fee structure, which will be introduced from summer 2013.


It is hoped the new system will reduce the number of weak and vexatious claims taken to a tribunal.


Under the new system, there will be two ‘levels’ of claims. For level one claims i.e. those involving unpaid wages and redundancy pay, there will be an issue fee of £160 and a further charge of £230 if the case goes to a hearing.


For more complex level two claims, such as those relating to unfair dismissal, discrimination complaints and equal pay, there will be an issue fee of £250 and a hearing fee of £950.


Announcing the changes, 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.’


While trade union groups have criticised the new fee structure, warning that it could deter many low paid workers from filing a claim, business groups welcomed the move.


Alexander Ehmann of the Institute of Directors (IoD) said: ‘The IoD strongly supports the Government’s decision to introduce user fees for employment tribunals to make people think twice before submitting vexatious or weak claims.


‘Businesses are too often forced to defend themselves against claims which have no merit, incurring heavy costs in the process.’


However, the organisation said it was ‘concerned’ that ‘many unemployed claimants will have their fees waived despite having the means to pay’.