You might be wondering – no, I’m sure you’re wondering – how much it costs to make an employment tribunal claim these days. It’s a good question. And who better to answer it than Jenny Willott, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central and current BIS employment relations minister?
Just a few weeks ago, in the House of Commons, the Minister rather testily insisted to MPs that “it does not cost women [who have been subject to pregnancy discrimination] more than £1,000 to go to a tribunal. It costs only £250 to start a claim, and most cases are finalised well before a hearing”.
Well, thank goodness for that! We wouldn’t want excessive cost obstructing workers’ access to justice.
However, somewhat confusingly, last week the Minister wrote that it costs “on average £1,800 to present a claim at tribunal” for, say, pregnancy discrimination. It does?
Yes, it does. It says so in Annex A of the BIS final regulatory impact assessment on Acas early conciliation, quietly published by BIS last week. This shows how the Minister’s £1,800 figure consists of three elements, each one calculated in 2012: there’s £714 for “time spent on case”, £23 for “travel & communication”, and a whopping £1,017 for “costs for advice & representation post ET1”. (Yes, I know. But who are we to question figures approved by the BIS employment relations minister?)
That comes to a total of £1,754, which BIS then rounds up to £1,800. So, the Minister’s figure of £1,800 does not include anything for the hefty upfront tribunal fees introduced in July 2013.
Which means it costs, on average, £2,050 to issue and pursue a tribunal claim for pregnancy discrimination. Which, according to both Maternity Action and the equalities minister, Maria Miller, is a serious and growing problem. And, where the case goes to a hearing, for which a fee of £950 is payable, that average cost rises to £3,000.
So now we know. Thank you, Jenny.