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Employment Tribunal Fees
The Ministry of Justice has published its long-awaited review of the impact of Employment Tribunal (ET) fees, which were introduced in July 2013.
Whilst the review does identify some areas for concern, it concludes that, on the whole, the objectives for the introduction of fees – i.e. transferring a proportion of the cost from the taxpayer to users of the service who can afford to pay and encouraging the use of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service's free Early Conciliation service and other mediation services, whilst at the same time protecting access to justice – have broadly been met, and 'while it is clear that fees have discouraged people from bringing claims, there is no evidence that they have prevented them from doing so'.
As a result of the findings, certain proceedings relating to payments made from the National Insurance Fund will be exempt from ET fees with immediate effect. These include claims in respect of a redundancy payment where the employer is insolvent. In addition, a consultation document has been published seeking views on the review's findings and on a proposal to raise the gross monthly income threshold for fee remission. Views are sought by 14 March 2017.
The TUC has criticised the report, accusing the Government of 'turning a blind eye' to the impact of ET fees. General Secretary Frances O’Grady said, “Until the Government commits to abolishing fees its commitment to ‘improve workers' rights’ in post-Brexit Britain looks pretty hollow.”
The challenge to the fee system brought by the trade union Unison is due to be heard in the Supreme Court on 27 and 28 March 2017.