CITIZENS advice bosses are urging people to go to them for help and advice when it comes to making claims to an employment tribunal.
In July the Government introduced fees for people making a claim to an Employment Tribunal for anything including unfair dismissal, discrimination, wages owed or some other type of employment law claim.
At the time bosses at Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), in Park Road, raised concerns that the fees could put people off from making a claim.
As a result officials have now issued a fresh appeal for people to seek help and advice first and not be put off by the fees.
The fees include both an initial fee payable when an application is made to an Employment Tribunal and also a further fee if the application proceeds to be heard by a tribunal.
For example, a person making a claim for unfair dismissal will have to make an initial fee payment of £250 and this is followed by a further fee of £950 if the application has to be heard by an employment tribunal.
The CAB has expressed its concern about the relatively high level of these fees and their worry that many people with genuine claims will be put off from making claims even though they may have a “good case”.
Meanwhile, people may also not be aware that if they are on certain benefits or low income, they can receive help with paying the fees.
Some people on certain benefits will automatically receive full fee remission and therefore will not have to pay any fee for making a claim to an employment tribunal.
The benefits concerned are income-based jobseekers’ allowance, income-based employment and support allowance, income support as well as guaranteed pension credit.
People not in receipt of any of these benefits may still get either full or partial help with the tribunal fees depending on their income.
Joe Michna, bureau manager and employment law adviser, said: “We have come across a number of people who have decided not to bring claims to an Employment Tribunal because of the fees, a whopping great £1,200 in an unfair dismissal case.
“However, we have also advised people who were not aware that depending on their household income, they may qualify for either a full fee remission and not have to pay anything to make their claim, or qualify for a reduction in the fee that they have to pay.
“The golden rule here for people who consider that they have a valid claim to a tribunal, but are not able to pay the fees is to seek advice.“
The Hartlepool CAB holds four drop-in sessions every week when no appointments are needed for a first visit.
l These sessions are:
Monday; 9.30am to 3pm;
Wednesday; 9.30am to 3pm;
Thursday; 9.30am to 3pm and
Friday; 9.30am to 3pm.
The bureau can also be contacted via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org