It has been nearly 3 months since fees were in introduced to the Employment Tribunal. On 18th October the Ministry of Justice published Employment Tribunal Receipt Statistics for July to September. The key findings were:
- Employment Tribunal receipts were around 40,000 for July – September in line with historical quarterly trends.
- Monthly data on receipts are volatile and any interpretation should be treated with caution. This volatility is mainly driven by irregular receipts of multiple claims cases which can involve over 100 receipts per case, and occasionally over 1,000.
- Between January – May 2013 an average of 17,000 receipts per month were received into the Employment Tribunal by HMCTS.
- In June there were 25,000 receipts, and a further 17,000 in July 2013. This sudden increase may be explained by people choosing to enter a claim prior to the introduction of fees.
- In August 2013 there were 7,000 receipts, and 14,000 in September 2013.
Whether the introduction of fees will have the effect of reducing the number of claims is still unclear because of the distortions due to delays in processing some claims and the possible effect of people bringing claims before fees were introduced to avoid fees.
The introduction of fees have been challenged by UNISON and recently Dave Prentice said that “The latest Government statistics show a significant drop in the number of individual claims being taken to employment tribunals, which is precisely why UNISON is challenging these unfair fees. Putting a price on justice is immoral and allows unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over the employment rights of their workers.” See UNISON
Unison, with the backing of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, submitted an application for judicial review of the introduction of employment tribunal fees. The hearing which took place in the High Court on 22nd and 23rd October 2013 went part-heard and will resume on 4th November 2013.
The issue of employment tribunal fees was also raised in Prime Minister’s Question Time in 23rd October 2013 and the following was reported in Hansard:
Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): Does the Prime Minister think it fair that a sacked pregnant woman will now have to pay £1,200 to take a maternity discrimination case to an employment tribunal?
The Prime Minister: It is very important for people to have access to employment tribunals, and they do under this Government. One thing that we have done is ensure that people do not earn such rights until they have worked for a business for two years, and I think that that is the right approach.
This exchange highlights the need to know the current legal position as while the point was not taken up, a maternity discrimination claim does not require any qualifying length of service in order to bring a claim. It is essential that employers find out the correct legal position and seek legal advice when required.
If you have any questions about this article or employment law generally please contact Sarah Everton at email@example.com