|The government has only recently announced that it will bring in fees for Employment Tribunals on 29 July 2013.
UNISON has strenuously opposed the introduction of fees from the moment they were suggested and has launched a judicial review to try to stop them coming into effect.
We will find out by 22 July whether our case is allowed to go forward (it is very unlikely that the court will refuse to hear it) and possibly when.
UNISON remains absolutely opposed to the introduction of fees and will continue to campaign for their abolition. However, as things stand, fees will start on 29 July and the union must prepare for them.
Unfortunately, it is impossible – even at this stage – to send out a full package of guidance and papers to branches because the government has not yet produced key documents such as the new ET 1 forms or the remission forms, despite the fact that the introduction date for them is two weeks away.
We will ensure that a full package for branches follows, together with further guidance as soon as they are published.
The final version will contain the protocol, Case management form, ET1, Remission form, agreement for the union to advance fees on behalf of members should remission not be given (contained in the Case management form) and guidance, where needed, on the forms.
UNISON has decided that no member will pay the fees up front and will do everything in its power to recoup fees paid out, whether by an award of costs at the end of a tribunal, or as part of any settlement reached before the end of a hearing. UNISON expects to be largely successful in this.
The union faces some very real challenges at all levels in trying to ensure smooth processing of employment tribunal claims.
The whole system has been designed by government specifically to make it difficult to bring a claim and to deter people from doing so in the first place.
UNISON centre, regions and branches will all be working together to try to ensure our members continue to receive the best service.
In particular, it is recognised that branches are under pressure and that this is an additional new burden. Guidance and training will be developed as quickly as possible to maximise assistance to our branches.
This email contains a new set of procedures drafted by the union’s lawyers together with regional staff. Further guidance will be prepared for branches.
Download the employment tribunal representation scheme protocol.
There are two major points for branches.
Paragraph 7: details documents to be filled out in order to process the case. These will be the Case management form (see below), application for “remission” form and the agreement to advance fees on behalf of members (contained in the Case management form).
Paragraph 22: one of the biggest challenges the union faces is getting claims in early enough to avoid an administrative nightmare. If claims are sent to the union later than 28 days before a time limit expires, there will not be enough time to get all necessary details and make a proper assessment of the merits of potential claims. In these circumstances regions will need to fill out the employment tribunal form and remission details and send them to the tribunal.
A package is being drafted which will provide full guidance on how to do this. The best solution is for members’ cases to be put together under the protocol and referred under its terms as quickly as possible.
It is very important to bear in mind that, once an application outside of the 28-day period has been made, an assessment of the merits will be done and the case put into the normal process. These cases will be subject to the same tests as all other cases and it should not be assumed that the case will automatically progress to hearing, just because the ET1 has been submitted by the union.
Please note that paragraphs 12 to 16 relate to the ACAS early conciliation scheme that is not coming into force until 2014.
Download the Case management form.
There are changes to the Case management form because the union will need members to apply for “remission”.
Remission applications involve providing details of income and form part of a scheme allowing for reduction or total removal of the fees depending on financial circumstances.
The union will need to get this information as part of the Case management form process to try to allow for the maximum number of employment tribunals to be run for the lowest possible cost.
If you have any queries about the application of the protocol or the new Case management form, please contact your region.
Further advice will follow.