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Employment tribunals - how to apply for help with fees

Before you can make a claim to an Employment Tribunal, you will have to either pay a fee or apply to have the fee waived because you are receiving certain benefits or are on a low income. This is called 'Help with fees'. There is a further fee if there's a tribunal hearing and you can also apply to get help with this fee.

This page tells you more about how to apply for help with fees.

Working out whether you qualify for help with fees

If you make a claim, you'll have to pay an issue fee when you start the claim and a hearing fee before the tribunal proceedings take place. If you think you qualify for help with fees, you'll have to make a separate application for each fee.

If you're not sure whether you qualify for help with fees, you can fill out a 'Help with fees' application form so the tribunal manager can work it out for you. Or you can use our guide to help with paying the claim fee.

Help with fees in exceptional circumstances

If something happens which seriously affects your ability to pay the fee, the tribunal manager may give you help with fees.

Exceptional circumstances include:

  • where paying your fee would mean you couldn't afford to pay overdue rent or mortgage payments, which could lead to you being made homeless.
  • threatened legal action because of unpaid bills
  • uninsured losses you've suffered because of fire, flood, theft or criminal damage.

If you have a financial emergency, write to the tribunal manager explaining what's happened. They will decide whether to give you help with fees on a case-by-case basis.

Applying for help with fees


There is a strict time limit for you to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal, which is usually within three months of the date the thing happened that you are making the claim about. So if you are complaining about unfair dismissal, you must make your claim within three months of the date you were dismissed. Once you have made a claim to a tribunal and have made an application to have your fee remitted, the time limit stops running. So you need to make sure you get your claim in and your fee remittance sorted out, or your fee paid, within the time limit.

The Acas early conciliation process starts from 6 April and applies to most employment tribunal claims. It will affect the time limit for your claim. From 6 May, you must contact Acas to start the process before you can make a claim to an employment tribunal.

For more information about early conciliation and how it affects the time limit, see Early conciliation - how it works and Early conciliation - how it affects the time limit for making a claim.

If you think you qualify for help with fees, you'll need to fill in form EX160. To help you fill in the form, there's a guide called 'How to apply for help with fees'.

Filling out the help with fees form

It's important that you give as much accurate information as possible and find evidence to back up your claim.

If the tribunal finds out that any information you've supplied is wrong or you can't give enough evidence to support your claim, the tribunal can:

  • ask you to pay the full fee, or
  • strike out the claim if you don't pay the fee before the tribunal hearing.

You must provide further evidence if the tribunal asks for it. If you don't, they can refuse your application and you'll have to pay the tribunal fee. You won't have to pay the tribunal fee if your claim is struck out.

Where to send the help with fees form

You can either complete the help with fees form by printing it off and filling it in by hand, or you can fill it in online and print the form off. You'll need to post the completed form with all your evidence proving your income and outgoings. You must include original documents, such as pay slips or tenancy agreements. Make photocopies of all documents before you send them, and use registered post.

You can then either:

  • post your completed EX160 form with your help with fees form and documents, or
  • if you've made your claim on an online EX160 form, it will ask you if you want to apply for help with fees. Follow the instructions for how to complete the help with fees form and post it with your evidence
  • deliver your completed EX160 form and your completed help with fees form with the evidence by hand to a designated Employment Tribunal office. You can find contact details for tribunals on GOV.UK.

Post the help with fees form with the supporting documents, and your EX160 form if you're not completing it online, to:

Employment Tribunal Central Office
Employment Appeal Tribunal Central Office
Employment Tribunal Fees
PO Box 10218

What happens when the tribunal receives your form

Your application should be processed within five working days of when it's received, although emergency applications can be processed sooner.

If you qualify for help with the full fee

If you qualify for help with the full fee and don't have to pay any fees at all, the tribunal will process the papers for your claim.

If you qualify for help with part of the fee

If you will have to pay some of the fee, the tribunal will write to you telling you how much you owe and how to pay it. The letter will tell you when the payment is due, usually within seven days of receiving the letter. Your claim won’t be processed until you've made the payment.

If you're refused help with the fee

If your application for help with fees is refused, the tribunal officer will return your application form and supporting evidence with a letter explaining the decision. If you don't agree with this decision you can appeal against it.

How to appeal against a decision

If your request for help with fees is refused, you can write to the tribunal officer saying why you are not happy with the decision. Send back any supporting evidence you already have. If you can, try to get further evidence that will support your claim.

The date by which you have to respond will be set out in the letter refusing your decision. It's usually around five working days from when you receive the letter.

The fees manager will look at the decision again and let you know the outcome within five working days of receiving your appeal.

If the decision is to allow you help with part of the fee, your tribunal claim will be processed.

If the decision is to allow you help with part of the fee, you will be told how much you'll have to pay before your claim can be processed.

If your appeal is refused, you will get a letter explaining why and you can appeal one more time to the operational manager. Their details will be set out in the decision letter. You will need to follow the same process as for appealing to the fees manager.

The operational manager's decision is final and if you don't agree with the decision, you won't be able to appeal again.

If you think you shouldn't have paid the fee

It may be possible to get a refund of the fee if you later find out that you should have qualified for help with fees. To get a refund you must:

  • claim within six months of paying the fee
  • claim to the tribunal office where you made the payment
  • provide evidence you paid the fee, usually a tribunal receipt
  • provide evidence of why you think that you qualify for help with fees. Benefit letters and other evidence must be dated when you paid the fee, not when you apply for the refund.

Next steps

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