Is a sliding scale of fees on the cards for Employment Tribunals?

In a press briefing earlier this week, employment relations minister Edward Davey is reported to have indicated that there may be exemptions for the planned Tribunal fees for low-paid workers.  His comment that “People will be pleased by the generosity of the remissions. People on low incomes will pay no fees” and indication that fees would be lower than the maximum for claimants whose pay is only immediately above the lowest pay levels, have sparked speculation that a sliding fee scale will be introduced.

Whilst the aim of introducing fees for Employment Tribunal claims has been announced on the basis that people using the publicly funded tribunal system should make a contribution to it, employers have long hoped that the introduction of fees will act as a deterrent for spurious and speculative claims.  Whilst the benefits of a sliding scale for genuinely aggrieved claimants cannot be ignored – the risk remains that claimants on low pay with nothing to loose will not be deterred from bringing spurious claims in the hope of negotiating nuisance settlements.

The fees are planned to be implemented by the end of 2013 with claimants facing proposed fees of £150 to £250 to issue an application and a further fee of £1,000 to commence a hearing.