Employment Tribunal Fee Remissions: The Updates Keep Coming
24th June, 2014
We recently reported on the concerning fee remission statistics which found that just 24% of all remissions applications (equating to 5.5% of all Employment Tribunal claims) were accepted up until 31 December 2013.
Since their introduction last October, making an application for fee remissions has been somewhat of a learning curve for applicants and their representatives.
An application must be submitted within the limitation period for presenting a claim to the Tribunal along with supporting evidence for the remission applied for. The supporting evidence is specifically prescribed by the remissions department and can include bank statements, wage slips and benefit letters (all of which have to be provided in original form).
Considering that the ET1 and Grounds of Complaint have to be submitted at the same time as the remissions application, it could be easy to accidentally not include one part of evidence requested by the Tribunal. Unfortunately, in these circumstances, failure to provide the required evidence, or part of it, results in an outright rejection of the application.
Following a review of the complicated process, the Ministry of Justice has now confirmed several changes to the fee remissions application process which will come into effect from 30 June 2014. The changes are:
1. It will no longer be necessary to provide original copies of documents and photocopies will be accepted. This will be particularly helpful in respect of benefit letters where the applicant may need to have the original in their possession for subsequent benefit claims. (Remember: the remissions department only return documents if you specifically ask them to.)
2. Bank statements which are printed from online banking will be accepted. Given that banks often encourage us to reduce our carbon footprint by receiving statements electronically, it seems appropriate that online banking statements be accepted by the remissions department.
3. It will no longer be necessary for applicants to disclose the exact amount of disposable capital they have but instead the threshold it falls into. This change will hopefully simplify the process of gathering information for the applicant.
4. Letters from DWP confirming receipt of benefits will be accepted up to three months old (as opposed to one month). This is an essential change given that applicants often do not receive monthly letters therefore having to contact the DWP to obtain an additional letter prior to submitting their remission application, which weighs on their limitation period.
5. A new remissions application form will be introduced which will be clearer and simpler for applicants. This will hopefully reduce the cross-referral with guidance which is currently required to establish the correct sections of the application form to fill in.
However, we think that the most important change of all, which will be of greatest benefit to applicants, is:
6. If the remissions department receive an application which appears to have some supporting evidence missing, it will endeavour to contact the applicant to obtain the relevant information rather than rejecting the entire application. This will offer a greater level of support to applicants in making their claim to the Tribunal and application for remissions to which they are entitled.
For further information and advice in relation to Employment Tribunal fees and remissions, please contact Helen Watson on 01244 405565 or send an email to [email protected].