Unions and workers’ groups say return of tribunal fees, scrapped in 2017, will send the wrong message to employers.


The government is considering reintroducing fees for employment tribunals, with proposals including a £55 issue fee for bringing a claim and a £55 appeal fee for each judgment appealed against. These fees aim to ensure users contribute to tribunal costs, generating up to £1.7m annually. The government argues that the fees are proportionate and affordable, aligning with the supreme court judgment.

tribunal fees

tribunal fees

Trade unions and workers’ rights groups have expressed concerns that reintroducing fees may deter individuals from lodging claims, giving bad employers the opportunity to exploit workers. They argue that employment rights are only meaningful if they are enforced and fear that the new fees could price many people out of seeking workplace justice.

The previous fee regime, introduced in 2013 and ranging from £390 to £1,200 depending on the case, led to a significant drop in cases brought by individuals. The supreme court ruled this regime as preventing access to justice, resulting in its abandonment in 2017.

While the government asserts that the proposed fees are low enough to allow workers to pursue low-value claims and assistance will be available for those unable to afford the fee, critics remain concerned about the potential impact on access to justice and workers’ rights enforcement.

Implementing fees for tribunals creates an additional barrier for individuals seeking justice during their most vulnerable times. The Conservative government’s previous attempt at introducing such fees was unsuccessful and faced criticism for hindering access to justice.

After the previous introduction of tribunal fees led to a two-thirds drop in claims and subsequent rejection by the supreme court due to concerns about access to justice, critics argue that this history should have deterred the revival of employment tribunal fees. Despite this, government ministers have chosen to prioritise the interests of employers over workers by resurrecting these fees.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson defended the proposed modest fee of £55, stating it would contribute to saving taxpayer money and maintaining the effective operation of the court system. They emphasised that access to justice for all is being safeguarded through a more generous scheme offering financial assistance to those unable to afford the fees.

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