GMB call for Employment Tribunal Fees to be scrapped

Download as PDF

GMB Southern is calling for draconian fees to be scrapped as government publish a review of employment tribunal (ET) fees.

GMB say government’s review of employment tribunal fees shows a continued disregard for those mistreated in the workplace.

When fees in the Employment Tribunal were introduced on 29 July 2013, the government made a commitment to review their impact.

The impact was indeed devastating with Ministry of Justice figures showing a 79% drop in the number of ET claims being lodged in October – December 2013 compared to the same period the previous year. The figure worsened to 81% in 2014 with widespread protests about ordinary working men and women being denied access to justice.

On 11 June 2015, the government announced the start of its review but their entirely lackadaisical approach to the matter prompted the House of Commons Justice Committee to state, in June 2016, that the government’s delay in publishing its review was unacceptable and to ask for the review to be published forthwith.

After further delay, on 31 January 2017, three and a half years after the implementation of ET fees, the government has published its long awaited review. 

Unsurprisingly, the outcome of the review is pitiful, with no substantive change to the current ET fees regime. In summary:

  • ET fees will not be scrapped
  • Mandatory ACAS Early Conciliation remains
  • The current categorisation of Type A and Type B claims remains
  • The amount of fees currently payable (e.g. £250 issue fee and £950 hearing fee in unfair dismissal claims) remains

Significantly, the government has refused to introduce exemptions for low value claims and claims where one is not seeking compensation but, for example, a declaration as to terms and conditions of employment. 

Only very minor changes are proposed. Firstly, the government proposes to amend the Help With Fees (fees remission) scheme – specifically the gross monthly income threshold is to be increased from £1085 to £1,250 i.e. if you earn less than this then you do not need to pay a tribunal fee provided your disposal capital is also below the relevant threshold. The government states that this is broadly the level of earnings for a single person working full time on the National Living Wage. 

Further, certain claims that would ultimately be paid from the National Insurance Fund i.e. as regards insolvent companies, will henceforth be exempt from the requirement to pay fees.

Although the government notes the huge drop in ET claims, it is refusing to take responsibility for this saying,

‘While it is clear that many people have chosen not to bring claims to the Employment Tribunals, there is nothing to suggest they have been prevented from doing so.’ 

Paul Maloney, Regional Secretary of GMB, Southern Region said,

‘The impact of ET fees and the government’s review of their impact shows that the government is far from being the government of working people, as they claim.

On the contrary, this government and the previous coalition government have systematically undermined employment protections for ordinary working men and women  and this review shows the government’s continued disregard for those who are mistreated in the workplace.

Sadly, things are only going to get worse with the government gearing up to trade off workers’ rights with trade agreements that will benefit a few at the expense of the majority.

Now, more than ever, ordinary working men and women need to join GMB and become a part of the trade union movement and, collectively, we must make a stand to protect workers’ rights and fair terms and conditions.’