The government has released the outcome of its review of Employment Tribunal fees and launched a consultation on new proposals to change the ET fees remission scheme (called ‘Help with Fees’).
The proposals are pretty small beer. The gross monthly income threshold to apply for a fee remission (reducing or cancelling out the ET fee) would be increased from £1,085 to £1,250: broadly the level of someone working full time and earning the National Living Wage. In other words, a single person who earns less than that amount would not have to pay an ET fee, assuming their disposable capital is also below the relevant threshold, the lowest of which is only £3,000. There are, however, no plans to increase the disposable capital threshold for a fee remission and, sadly, nor does the government plan to reduce ET fee levels (although fees are being removed completely for some technical claims relate to payments from the National Insurance Fund).
David Sorensen, partner, comments “sadly, this means that the majority of workers still have to pay whopping ET fees – for example, £1,200 to take an unfair dismissal case to a hearing – a lot of money to find for someone who’s just been dismissed! The proposed changes go nowhere near enough to satisfy those of us who have been calling for the scrapping of ET fees or at least a reduction. ET fees hit the ‘squeezed middle’ hardest. Although the government acknowledges that ‘there does appear to be evidence that fees have discouraged some people from bringing proceedings’ it states that there is ‘no conclusive evidence that anyone has been prevented from doing so.’ Discouraged, but not prevented, really? Further, given the fact that the government has sat on this review for a year or so, the cynic in me tells me that this is a political attempt to help the government defend itself on 27 March, when the Supreme Court hears Unison’s appeal about ET fees”.
The consultation closes on 14 March 2017 and can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/review-of-the-introduction-of-fees-in-the-employment-tribunals