The First Phase of Refunding Has Begun
The Government has started a trial of reimbursing individuals who were charged and paid a fee to enter a claim at an Employment Tribunal. This is as a result of the Supreme Court deciding that such fees were an unreasonable obstacle to accessing justice in cases in which employment rights had been breached.
The first phase will be conducted over the next 4 weeks and will involve about 1.000 past applicants. It is a trial before the second phase, in which refunds will be made to all eligible individuals and organisations, begins later in November.
Refunds are only applicable to fees paid since the charges were introduced from 28th July 2013. Interest of 5% will be paid with the refund.
Who Will be in the First Phase?
This is being restricted to individuals who made a single claim to a Tribunal and have previously registered their interest in receiving a refund. These individuals will be contacted in the next few weeks. Proof of payment will be required in many instances and a statement will need to be signed.
Who Will be in the Full Roll out (Second Phase)?
Refunds will then be extended to all past applicants who fall into one of the following categories:
- Paid a fee directly to the Employment Tribunal or Employment Appeal Tribunal and have not been reimbursed by their opponent in accordance with an order of the Tribunal or
- Ordered by the Tribunal to reimburse the fee to their opponent and who can show that they have paid it or
- Representatives (such as a Trade Union) who paid a fee on behalf of another person and have not been reimbursed by that person or
- The lead claimant (or representative) in a multiple claim who paid a fee on behalf of the other claimants.
Employers will not be eligible, under either phase, to reclaim fees for which they compensated an employee as part of a private settlement. However. the individual who paid the fee to the Tribunal will still be eligible for a refund.
Do Not Get Overlooked
If you have not been invited to take part in the initial stage, you should register your interest for a refund when the full scheme is rolled out. A pre-registration scheme has been set up for which you can register by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by posting a notice to the relevant office below:
- The Employment Tribunals Central Office (England and Wales)/Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) Fees, PO Box 10218, Leicester LE1 8EG or
- The Employment Tribunals Central Office Scotland/Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) Fees, PO Box 27105, Glasgow G2 9JRX.
Response by Employers
There was a marked drop in the number of Employment Tribunal cases after fees were introduced so an increase in applications in the future should not be a surprise. Many employers have put in place the means to address grievances and investigate concerns or issues regarding employment matters.
Some employers though will still flout employment laws e.g. erratic payment of staff, discouraging the taking of rest breaks and/or holidays. ACAS does not seem to have a sufficient bite if an employer refuses to engage in pre-tribunal conciliation and HMRC does not always give priority to single cases of breaches of the National Minimum Wage rates. At least now, individuals will have the means to start a claim if an employer is being foolish.
Some of the foundation stones that characterise an effective employer are:
- a flexible set of employment terms which balance the needs of the employer and employees;
- managers trained to address people issues before they erupt into formal processes, disengagement or recurring problems;
- dealing with issues promptly rather than ignoring them in the hope they will go away.
How do you fare against our Hallmarks of Effective HR Management? Read more about a simple self-audit
Will Fees Be Reintroduced?
[Updateon 31/10/2017 to the original article ]
The Ministry of Justice has indicated that reasonable fees for making an application to an Employment Tribunal may be introduced later on.
Written statement – HCWS186, Ministry of Justice, by Dominic Raab (Minister of State for Justice), 20 October 2017
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