1,800 fee waiver claims rejected for employment tribunal system

A United Employment Lawyers news briefing looks at the latest UK statistics of waiver claims.

Around 1,800 claims against employment tribunal charges have been rejected, according to statistics revealed by the Minister for Courts and Legal Aid in the House of Commons this week.

From 29 July to 31 December 2013, 2,500 paper applications were received from individuals, or groups of individuals, in respect of an employment tribunal fee levied. Judged against the set criteria, 600 were granted, and 1,800 were rejected. This provisional data has been rounded to the nearest 100.

Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith and Shadow Justice Minister, raised the issue with the Secretary of State for Justice asking what the cost to his Department has been of establishing the new system for the remission of employment tribunal fees to date.

In reply, Shaiesh Vara, the Minister for Courts and Legal Aid, said: “The capital investment made by HM Courts and Tribunals Service in respect of IT systems to support the processing of fee receipts and remission applications across the employment tribunals system was £4.4 million. It is not possible to disaggregate the cost of establishing new (and revising existing) IT systems to handle remission applications in the employment tribunals system from that work in relation to fees handling systems. The figure provided is, therefore, a combined total.”

Asked how many applications for employment tribunal fee remission have been received, granted and refused since 29 July 2013, Mr Vara said: “It is in everyone’s interest to avoid drawn out disputes which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses. That’s why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives like mediation and conciliation. It is not fair for the taxpayer to foot the entire £74 million bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal. And it is not unreasonable to expect people who can afford to do so, to make a contribution.”

He said fee waivers (remissions) are available for those who genuinely cannot afford to pay the fees. These are based on means tests and are intended to support the most vulnerable in society.

Employment tribunal fees were introduced on 29 July 2013. HM Court & Tribunals Service is developing the management information reporting tools to produce statistical data on remissions applications.

Asked how much has been received by HM Courts and Tribunals Service in payment of employment tribunal fees since 29 July 2013.

“The number of claims received by employment tribunals is published by the Ministry of Justice as Official Statistics (quarterly and annually) on the Justice website. Data in respect of the period January to March 2014 are scheduled to be published on 12 June 2014, following the usual quality assurance work that takes place prior to formal release. Under Official Statistics protocols, data will not be released before that point.

The most recent such statistical publication (covering the period up to the end of December 2013) is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tribunal-statistics-quarterly-october-to-december-2013.

He said financial information relating to fees and remissions in the employment tribunals system will be published by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) in its Annual Report and Accounts. The Annual Report and Accounts is scheduled to be published in July 2014 on the Ministry of Justice website.