Applications open for Employment Tribunal fee refunds
All those eligible for Employment Tribunal fee refunds can now apply, following a successful implementation phase of the new refund scheme.
The refund scheme comes after Ministers committed to reimbursing those who had paid Employment Tribunal fees following a Supreme Court judgment. The court recognised the important role fees can play, but ruled that the Government had not struck the right balance in this case.
July 2013 saw the introduction of a fees system regarding any claim made to an Employment Tribunal, which was fiercely fought at the time by a variety of unions across the UK. Anyone in England, Scotland and Wales wanting to pursue a case against their employer had to pay as much as £1,200.
Four years on, July saw a ground-breaking outcome from the Supreme Court that found the fee system unlawful; further it added that the Government had acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally back in 2013 when the scheme was introduced.
The opening stage of the phased implementation scheme was launched in October, with around 1,000 people given the chance to complete applications. This first phase has now been successfully completed, and anyone who thinks they may be eligible for a refund can now apply on GOV.UK.
Tar Tumber, HR Consultant for International Workplace comments:
“It is now even more important that employers ensure they follow due process when managing staff, and train their managers in employment procedures. Whilst this might not prevent claims from being made, it may mean the difference between winning or losing, and certainly should help reduce any compensatory payouts that are ordered.”
However, since this announcement back in July, Lord Chancellor David Lidington has told MPs that his department intends to bring back Employment Tribunal fees. He said:
“We still intend to charge fees. I think it is necessary as a contribution to costs. It is also necessary and sensible as a deterrent to frivolous or vexatious litigation and that was something the court itself acknowledged.
“The key lesson that I took from the judgment was that fees are… a reasonable way in which to secure a contribution towards the running costs of the courts and tribunals service but that, in setting the level of fees, the Government needs to be very careful in regard to questions of access and affordability.”