Plans to introduce fees for claims at the Employment Tribunal

Legal Updates

At the end of January 2024, the government announced a proposal to introduce a fee for claimants to bring claims forward at the employment tribunal across England, Wales and Scotland. If this proposal is implemented, it risks reducing access to justice at work, and will have a negative impact on migrant workers.

To learn more about work exploitation and migrant workers’ rights, read our Key Guide here.

What is the employment tribunal?

For many people, the employment tribunal is the last option for seeking justice for problems at work. The employment tribunal is a court that hears and makes decisions on issues between employers and employees.

The types of issues people might appeal to the employment tribunal for include:

  • unfair dismissal
  • unpaid wages, including unpaid holiday pay
  • discrimination at work
  • breaches of other work rights

As pointed out in this statement, the employment tribunal is not without problems, and many people have difficulties getting justice through the employment tribunal. This is due to a number of factors, including lack of access to support through the process of a workplace dispute. 

Many people may have no other option than appeal to the employment tribunal if their rights have been breached at work. It is a very important safeguard for workers’ rights.

What is the proposal?

The government is proposing to introduce a fee of £55 for every claim and appeal application made to the tribunal. It states that a fee of £55 is ‘generally affordable for claimants’.

Given the high rates of poverty experienced by people who are in work, and increasing precarity for many migrant workers due to the risks of work exploitation, the introduction of a fee will act as an additional barrier to claimants in accessing justice for problems in the workplace. This statement from the organisation Employment Legal Advice Network (ELAN) sets out how migrant workers are likely to be affected.

This joint letter led by the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) states that this plan risks giving:  ‘a green light to bad employers to exploit their workers’.

How can you resist this? 

Many people will not know about these changes. Share this news widely, including media coverage such as this Guardian article.

The TUC is preparing a public consultation in response to this plan. It is open to anyone to respond, and the deadline for responses is 25 March 2024. You can respond to the consultation using this form.

Add your response to send a message to the government that justice at work should be free and accessible to all. 

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