Employment Tribunal statistics published recently show the continuing decline in the number of claims being made in the Employment Tribunal since the introduction of fees in July 2013.
For the majority of claims, (including unfair dismissal), the fees are £250 for issuing the claim and a further £950 if the case proceeds to a hearing. For wages claims and other more straightforward claims, the fees are £160 for issuing the claim and £230 for the hearing.
The number of claims received by the Employment Tribunal service between October and December 2014 from single claimants were down more than 10% on the same period in 2013.
Statistics have also been published for the first time in relation to the fee remission scheme which applies to individuals who can’t pay the necessary fees due to their low income, lack of savings or receipt of certain benefits. If an application is successful, the Tribunal fees are waived.
During the 12 month period ending on 30 September 2014, more than 11,000 remission claims were submitted for the issue fee and nearly 2,500 for the hearing fee. Only a third of applications were successful in relation to the issue fee, however, almost two thirds of the applications for the hearing fee were successful.
The introduction and level of fees remains under constant scrutiny and these statistics do not in any way address the criticism that they prevent access to justice. However, the position is unlikely to change in the near future as the courts have determined that the implementation of the fees and their level are not unlawful.
It seems, therefore, that employers can continue to run their businesses with less fear of receiving frivolous Tribunal claims.
That said, employers should bear in mind that we are in a general election year and if there is a change in government, we may see these fees being abolished or reduced. The number of claims to a Tribunal may therefore rise again.
In any event, individuals who are successful in their claims are able to recover from the employer any fees they may have paid, in addition to any compensation awarded. Employers should, therefore, be mindful that claims may still be issued by employees which could have a significant cost impact as well as a nuisance factor for their businesses.
Employers should continue to deal with HR issues as they arise and following their internal policies or the ACAS code, thus reducing the risk of a potential claim.