Following the introduction of fees for Employment Tribunal claims, there has been a greater fall in the amount of claims being issued than was ever predicted. In an ongoing consultation, which will end on the 14th March 2017, the Ministry of Justice are proposing to raise the income threshold to £1250 per month, with anyone earning less being entitled to fee remission and potentially being exempt from fees. The proposal is to introduce types of proceedings which will be exempt from fees such as complaints relating to payment from an insolvent employer’s National Insurance Fund. A rise in the amount of people receiving fee remission and proceedings with no fees could see the amount of claims being issued rise again.
The fall in Employment Tribunal claims may not just be due to the introduction of fees, it could be because more people are using alternative ways to resolve employment disputes rather than heading straight for the Tribunal, such as mediation or ACAS Early Conciliation. The Government say that there is no clear evidence that people have been prevented from accessing tribunals but that the introduction of fees may have discouraged them. They do not believe that people cannot afford to pay but instead they choose not to pay, or they are unaware of the fee remission scheme. Therefore on of their primary aims is to raise awareness of the fee remission scheme and make it easier for Claimants to apply. The findings of the Government regarding the impact of fees on the use of the justice system will be considered by the Supreme Court at the end of March.