The Scottish Government has announced its intention to abolish Employment Tribunal fees in Scotland. This commitment is set out in its 2015/16 programme for government, although the timetable for doing so is presently unclear.
It is anticipated that the power to administer Scotland’s own Employment Tribunal system will be transferred from Westminster to Holyrood when legislation is passed to give effect to the Smith Commission recommendations on further devolution of powers to Scotland. Therefore, Employment Tribunal fees cannot be abolished in Scotland until the current Scotland Bill is passed by the Westminster parliament and receives Royal Assent.
The introduction of Employment Tribunal fees, and particularly the levels at which these fees have been set, has been subject to much criticism since their introduction in July 2013. Statistics demonstrate a significant drop in Employment Tribunal applications since fees were introduced, although to date all legal challenges to the fees regime have failed.
The UK government has promised a review of the level of Employment Tribunal fees, but there is now a real prospect of significantly different arrangements operating in England and Wales, as compared to Scotland.
The power to make all employment laws and regulations in Scotland is still reserved to the Westminster parliament.