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HR Insights 
 
Welcome to our HR Insights page; here we will post our regular blog, providing an insight into the world of HR ~ whether on a general matter or something more specific that is going on in the news. Please feel free to leave us your comments... 

This week, we are looking at Employment Tribunal Fees ~ fair or not? - a hot topic within the news over this summer... 
Image ~ Personneltoday.com 
You may have read on our news pages that there have been further developments in the area of Employment Tribunal fees; with the Government announcing a review of the fee structure and the Appeal Court hearing the appeal from Unison into the decision that was taken by the High Court back in December 2014… 
 
With the issue of fees being back in the headlines, we thought we would take some time to jot down our thoughts on them – hey, you never know; someone out there with influence may pick this up and run with it… 
 
As an HR Consultant, we primarily work with the employer; so you might expect that we would be in favour of the fees – after all, the number of cases reaching Tribunal have, to all intents and purposes fallen since the introduction of fees and by and large, we believe that there is a place for fees in the Tribunal system. However, in our opinion the current system is not the right system to have in place. 
 
At the moment, there are two levels of fees payable for taking a case to Tribunal – 
Type ‘A’ Cases; those which are, by their nature, more simple to deal with e.g. unauthorised deductions, unpaid redundancy or other payments, failure to consult etc. will be subject to a fee of £160 on presentation and a further £230 if proceeding to a hearing (which must be paid prior to the date of the hearing). 
Type ‘B’ Cases; which will be those that are more complex to deal with e.g. unfair dismissal, discrimination claims etc. will attract a fee of £250 for presenting the case and a further £950 for the hearing 
 
Focussing on the type B cases; a total of £1200 is required to get a case to Tribunal. However, if you have just lost your job – even if you believe you have a solid case, would you want to spend £1200 pursuing a case or would you want to hang onto your money to cover your living expenses, just in case it is a while before you find another job… Of course, for those working in a unionised environment, who have the backing of the Union, this is generally not an issue as the Union will pick up the tab and to them, this amount is neither here nor there… 
 
On the face of it then, there is potential for someone who has a sound case being prevented from taking their case forward; whilst another with a more unmeritorious case, but with Union backing getting their day in court… 
So what is the answer then? 
 
We believe that there is a place for fees - without them, there are too many vexatious claims being pursued; and whilst the employer may ultimately win the case, it will generally be a ‘Pyrrhic’ victory as, even with a costs order granted in their favour, they are unlikely to recover those costs. 
 
Image downloaded from ~ allthetropes.orain.org 
Our answer then, would be to introduce a robust pre-screening process; at this stage a claimant’s case would be assessed against a number of set criteria which would give them their ‘score’ and which would provide an indicative measure of the likelihood of success if they were to pursue their claim. This would then be matched against a sliding scale of fees and for those employees with say, an 80% or more chance of success, the fee they would be expected to pay would be pitched much lower than the current £1200. 
 
However, at the other end of the scale, those who are assessed as having less than a 30% chance of success will be required to pay a fee, which is significantly higher. 
 
To us, this is a win-win-win scenario: 
It will be more affordable to those with genuine claims 
Employers will be more inclined to settle if they believe they only have a small chance of winning and conversely, those making unmeritorious claims would be less likely to pursue – thus achieving the objective of reducing the number of cases going through Tribunals and; 
Where a case is pursued and ultimately won by the claimant, despite having been initially assessed as having little chance of success, their fees would be reimbursed as part of their award… 
 
These are just our thoughts; you may or may not agree with them, but what would life be like if there was no debate or discussion into these issues??? 
Read our Archive of Blogs here... 
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