Is the Increase in Tribunal Fees Stopping Employees Being Treated Fairly?

Employment tribunal fees were introduced on 29 July 2013. Fees start at around £160 to issue a Type A claim (such as unlawful deduction of wages or breach of contract) and £250 for a Type B claim (e.g. unfair dismissal and discrimination claims). A further hearing fee of £230 must be paid for Type A claims and £950 for Type B claims.

Is the increase in tribunal fees stopping employees from taking their employers to tribunal? Is this reluctance to stand up for what is due to employees allowing some employers to treat their staff unfairly?

Since these fees were established, the number of cases being heard at Tribunal has decreased. April to June 2014 shows an 81% drop in claims compared to the same period in the previous year. (Source:  Is this because too many employees can’t afford the fees, or is it just that they don’t want to have to pay the fees?

UNISON has been fighting to have the fees abolished since they were brought in and in August 2015 announced that it would take the case to the Supreme Court, after the Court of Appeal rejected its appeal. UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “The decision is a huge disappointment and a major setback for people at work. Many unscrupulous employers will be rubbing their hands together in glee at the news. There is stark evidence that workers are being priced out of justice and it is women, the disabled and the low-paid who are being disproportionately punished. Our fight for fairness at work and access to justice for all will continue until these unfair and punitive fees are scrapped.”

Due to the Early Conciliation Scheme, anyone wanting to bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal must now contact ACAS first. The job of ACAS’s Early Conciliation Scheme is to help reconcile workplace problems before litigation is commenced. Initial indications suggest, according to the President of the Employment Tribunals (England and Wales), Brian Doyle, that Early Conciliation is likely to have had the same effect without the introduction of tribunal fees.

The Scottish Government announced recently that it intends to abolish fees for employment tribunals in Scotland. Should the same be done in England and Wales?