The Government has confirmed the fees that will be charged for using the employment tribunal system, following a consultation on their introduction.
The Government said the fees will be introduced from summer 2013 and explained that their introduction is intended to ensure that users of the tribunal system contribute to its running costs, as well as encouraging potential claimants to explore alternative solutions such as mediation.
Following the consultation, the Government has confirmed it will implement a system whereby claimants pay an initial fee to issue a claim and a further fee if the claim proceeds to a hearing.
Under the new system, there will be two "levels" of claims. For level one claims, the issue fee will be £160 and the hearing fee will be £230. For level two claims, the issue fee will be £250 and the hearing fee will be £950.
Whether a claim falls into the level one or the level two category will depend on its complexity. For more detail on what types of claims will fall into these categories, see XpertHR's coverage of the Government's consultation response.
Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said: "We want people, where they can, to pay a fair contribution for the system they are using, which will encourage them to look for alternatives.
"It is in everyone's interest to avoid drawn out disputes, which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses. That's why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives, like mediation."
The Government confirmed that many people on low incomes may not be required to pay the full fees, under the same remission system that already exists for court users who pay fees to use the civil courts' services. This will become clearer after a further consultation later this year as part of a wider review.
Under the fees system, the tribunal will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fee to the successful party. However, it added that since, in practice, cases are often settled rather than there being a clear "winner" or "loser", the issue of reimbursement would form part of the settlement.
In response to the news, manufacturers' organisation the EEF said: "Fees are one way to encourage more responsible behaviour by tribunal users. We warmly welcome the announcement from the Government that realistic fees will be required from claimants in a way which will still preserve an incentive to settle. Employers have faced a steep rise in speculative claims in recent years, many of which are withdrawn or struck out leaving employers picking up the bill. Claimants risk little under the current system. Fees, if properly introduced, will help check this rise.
"However, the current remission system will result in most claimants paying little or nothing, and whilst we welcome the Government's intention to consult on changes in the autumn, unless most claimants have to pay at least some fee, today's announcement will have little impact."