This consultation sets out the government’s review of Employment Tribunal (ET) fees and sets out proposals for reforming the Help with Fees scheme.
The government’s review of ET fees shows that the introduction of fees has broadly met its objectives:
- users are contributing between £8.5 million and £9 million a year in fee income, in line with what we expected, transferring a proportion of the cost from the taxpayer to those who use the tribunal;
- more people are now using Acas’s free conciliation service than were previously using voluntary conciliation and bringing claims to the ET combined; and
- Acas’s conciliation service is effective in helping just under half the people who refer disputes to them avoid the need to go to the tribunal, and where conciliation has not worked, most people go on to issue proceedings in the ET.
We have however identified some issues of concern. The fall in claims has been significantly greater than was estimated when fees were first introduced. Although we remain satisfied that there are sufficient safeguards in place to make sure that fees do not prevent people from bringing claims before the ETs, there does appear to be evidence that fees have discouraged some people from bringing proceedings.
We are therefore consulting on proposals for an adjustment to the Help with Fees scheme to extend the scope of support available to people on lower incomes.