Move criticised as anti-worker as fees range from £390 to £1,600

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Sacked workers will have to pay to take their ex-employer to a tribunal from next year, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed.

The move, widely condemned as favouring employers because the proposed fees range from £390 to £1,600 payable in advance is likely to deter low-paid workers taking a claim, is to be implemented in the summer of 2013.

The government says the fees are being introduced in order to “reduce the taxpayer subsidy”. It appears that the previous justification – that fees would deter weak or vexatious claims – is no longer the rationale.

A spokesperson from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Charging up to £1,600 just to lodge an ET claim isn’t benevolently giving employees a financial stake in their own cases, it’s a straightforward denial of access to justice and will hit hard against working people when they are at their most vulnerable. That is not going to promote growth, enterprise or the consumer confidence which is necessary to both.”

A briefing from Thompsons says the fees will be charged in two stages – the first will apply when issuing the claim; and the second before the hearing.

There will also be different levels of fees, as follows:

  • level 1 claims (very straightforward) will incur an issue fee of £160 and a hearing fee of £230
  • level 2 claims will incur an issue fee of £250 and a hearing fee of £950
  • claims at the Employment Appeal Tribunal will incur an appeal fee of £400 and a hearing fee of £1,200
  • multiple claims will incur a hearing fee of up to £5,700
  • other fees include £60 for an application to dismiss following settlement and £600 for judicial mediation

The fees will be payable in advance, and most types will only apply to the person bringing the claim. Although the tribunal will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fee to the successful party, there is no requirement for it to do so. Fees can also be taken into account during settlement negotiations.

Issue fees will only be refunded in limited circumstances and hearing fees in cases that are settled or withdrawn will not be refunded once they have been listed for hearing, unless the tribunal made an administrative error.

People on a low income may not have to pay the full fee.


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