Employers are reminded that several new employment law measures came into force on 29 July 2013.
1. Bringing an Employment Tribunal (ET) claim is no longer free.
The fee structure for single claims to the ET is as follows:
- For level 1 claims (e.g. claims for sums due on termination of employment, such as unpaid wages, payment in lieu of notice, redundancy payments etc.) the issue fee will be £160 and the hearing fee, payable approximately six weeks in advance of the hearing, will be £230; and
- For level 2 claims (e.g. unfair dismissal, discrimination and claims arising under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998) the issue fee will be £250 and the hearing fee will be £950.
ETs will have a discretionary power to order the losing party to meet the fees paid by the winning party.
The fee for bringing an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal will be £400 and the hearing fee will be £1,200.
Many people on low incomes will not be required to pay the full fees – under the same HM Courts and Tribunal Service remission system that already exists for those who pay fees to use the civil courts’ service.
2. New ET rules are introduced. These include the introduction of a ‘sift stage’, at which the Employment Judge will review all the documentation to decide whether a claim or response, or any part of it, should be dismissed, and the introduction of ‘preliminary hearings’, which will take the place of case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews.
3. An individual cap of 12 months’ pay is introduced on the unfair dismissal compensatory award where this is less than the statutory maximum or overall cap. Where the employee’s annual salary exceeds the limit, the statutory maximum will still apply.
4. Compromise agreements are renamed ‘settlement agreements’.
5. New provisions (Section 111A) have been inserted into the Employment Rights Act 1996 making settlement agreement discussions inadmissible as evidence in ordinary unfair dismissal cases so that offers to end the employment relationship on agreed terms can now be made on a confidential basis. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has produced a statutory Code of Practice, ‘Settlement Agreements under Section 111A of the Employment Rights Act 1996’.