Employment tribunal fees - the changes

We explain what the employment tribunal fee changes mean and how small businesses can better protect themselves.

First published on Thursday, Aug 13, 2020

Last updated on Friday, Aug 25, 2017

3 min read

Employment tribunal fees have been in the news recently and there have been big changes that businesses need to know.

What has changed

In July 2013, employment tribunal fees were introduced in England, Wales, and Scotland. Effectively, the claimant had to pay a fee to make a claim, and if they won their claim, the employer had to reimburse the claimant, along with paying the award.

Fees were set at two levels: £390 in total for a Type A claim (unpaid wages, etc.); and £1,200 in total for a Type B claim (unfair dismissal, discrimination, etc.).

Claimants paid their fees in two instalments: the first upon making the claim and the second shortly before the hearing.

On July 26th, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees were unlawful. The main reasons for this were:

  • The high level of the fee prevents people from getting the justice that they deserve after being treated unlawfully by their employer;
  • Fees discriminate against groups with a protected characteristic e.g. women, because, generally, women earn less than men and so would be less likely to be able to afford the fee.

What the changes mean

When fees were introduced, the number of employment tribunal claims plummeted because people could not afford to make a claim.

Because of the recent ruling, this ‘safety net’ is no longer there and anyone who feels they have been treated badly by their employer, but would not have been able to afford the fee, will now be able to make a claim for free.

What you need to do to protect your business

It is very likely that the number of claims will increase because of this ruling, and it is important for employers to protect their businesses from any potential future employment tribunals. One of the ways of doing this is by keeping up-to-date records and recording evidence of any actions taken.

Employment law advice from BrightHR

Are you worried by the employment tribunal ruling and the potential implications for your business? With Bright Advice, our employment law experts are just a phone call away, offering employment law advice and peace of mind to help you make the right decisions to protect your business.

To learn how your business can benefit from Bright Advice or to request a demo, please call 0800 783 2806.

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