Employment tribunal fees will deny the poorest workers justice

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Responding to the government’s announcement today (Wednesday) that it intends to charge workers a fee to take claims to employment tribunals, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

‘Employment tribunals are a key way of enabling workers to enforce their rights. Government proposals to introduce a fee to lodge an initial claim – and then possibly a further charge for a full hearing – will effectively prevent the poorest and most vulnerable workers from ever being able to get justice.

‘It is completely unacceptable that a worker on the minimum wage, who has been underpaid and denied holiday pay, may now have to pay a fee of £250 or more to claim back what they are entitled to because their employer flouted the law.

‘Because the fees will be paid upfront and only refunded if a claim succeeds, the poorest workers and those without union backing will struggle to pay these costs. They are also the most likely to be deterred from pursuing a claim – especially as a high proportion of workers who win cases can struggle to recover the money owed by the employer. It is likely that many legitimate claims will be deterred, enabling rogue employers to act with impunity.

‘Ministers say that it is right that workers using the employment tribunal service should pay for it, but they fail to consider that the reason workers have to resort to using the tribunal service in the first place is because their employers have failed to abide by the law.

‘Levying higher fees on claims above £30,000 will penalise workers bringing discrimination claims, and in particular those who have suffered from the most blatant forms of prejudice.

‘Rather than focus on denying workers the opportunity to pursue legitimate claims, the government should be ensuring that all workers are able to enforce their rights and should be directing its attention to tackling the rogue employers who behave as if they are above the law.’

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3 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. A Government that speaks about fairness and sharing the load, seems to want to cement privilege and ensure that the little ones know their place.
    Charging for ET is the way to disenfranchise the poor rather than to discourage poor claims, as those looking to play the system will always take the chance and pay the fees hoping to recoup these through the process.

  2. As an HR Outsourcer, we primarily act for a large number of SME clients, but also support individualls to claim at Tribunal if they ahve been unfairly tretaed. Phillips and Mr Barber should recognise that many false or at least flimsy claims are submitted solely to try to gain a fiscal outcome or pay off on a commercial basis. We recently dealt with one such case that even though it was turned down at a Pre Hearing Review, cost the Company the equivalent of 50% of an employees salary for the year. Therefore, had this claim not been pursued, the Company could have employed another employee for 6 months. So these propsoed changes are excellent if they prove to deter such blatantly false claims and Brednan needs to see the positives as well as the negatives or at least to submit proposals to minimise the time wasters who cost the economy so much.

  3. You pay to bring a claim in the County Court, no matter how strong your case! It is a pity that fees were not introduced right from the start; it would now be obvious that they should be charged as they are in court. Claimants on benefit will have fees exemption as they do in court.

    MoJ are right and not before time.

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